Coleen Rowley: A Rainy Day in DC, Marching to Close Guantanamo

“The US Government Seems to Have Given Up on Ever Righting Itself”

ColeenRowleyColeen Rowley was in DC last week, and I missed her visit again. She came all the way from Minneapolis to participate in the March on January 11and stand in solidarity with others who have not given up the fight- the vigilance; notwithstanding the frigid weather and the pouring rain. She drove all the way here, and then back. Because she is one of those people who doesn’t only talk-the-talk. This lady has always walked-the-walk. Whether in the fight for persecuted and prosecuted government whistleblowers, whether on our government’s  widely-practiced and now-normalized torture, illegal detainment, assassination practices, Coleen has always been there; notwithstanding all the odds that appear to be against us and all the defeats that we have been experiencing-back-to-back and nonstop. (She is in the picture-on the right)

Here are a few excerpts from a recent article she wrote on her march in DC last week:

It's hard to know what to do, as mere citizens, to try and fix things so many years after the United States government decided it did not have to follow its own laws, the Geneva Conventions or the jus cogens torture prohibition. It's now ten years after the indefinite detention prison of Guantanamo was created, an entire decade since the US went off the rails. With the recent passage of the National Defense Authorization Act broadening and making permanent its "war on terror", the US government seems to have given up on ever righting itself.

A country that cannot look back and learn from its mistakes is doomed to repeat its mistakes. Not surprisingly, torture memo author John Yoo is amongst those most vigorously urging the US to the "unavoidable challenge" of more war. Eerily similar to the lies and false hyping of Iraq's WMD that led to an unjustified and catastrophic war, we find ourselves perched on the brink of watching a new war break out, this time on Iran. It will, in all likelihood, be a repeat of the destructive invasion of Iraq but many times worse not only in terms of the millions of people who could be killed in the Mid-east but also in terms of the potential blowback upon the United States and Israel. We could even experience the World War III that some neo-conservatives seem to long for.

And yet almost no one speaks out here in the U.S.! The Democrats have turned to war mongering almost to the same extent as the Republicans (with the exception of Ron Paul). Not only do most congresspersons and politicians of both parties give speeches in support of draconian sanctions (seen as war provocation) and stopping diplomacy, but they ultimately urge on this next war on Iran.

It seems the only thing we can do is get more ordinary citizens to take to the streets to demonstrate against war and torture.

You can read the entire piece here.

I feel terrible for not being able to make it there. I was less than 5 miles from the location, yet didn’t try hard enough to organize care for my toddler and join these activists. On the other hand, Coleen didn’t let many hundreds of miles of excruciating driving deter her. I salute you, Coleen. I always have.

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  1. Bill Bergman says:

    Don’t feel too bad, Sibel. You just took to the streets, after a fashion.

  2. knowbuddhau says:

    I have the utmost respect for both of you. In fact, I respect you both enough not to shy away from disagreement.

    Yes, GTMO has been a horrible mistake, when viewed from any perspective even the least bit humanist. It’s perfectly in character, though, for a government that, in my opinion, officially went off the rails with the 3/5 rule that enshrined white supremacy at the heart of our union.

    Giving smallpox-infested blankets to tribes, although perhaps not an official written policy, similarly marks a departure from what we (mostly white) Americans tend to think is our true national character.

    The genocide that “won” the West likewise departs from our idea of ourselves.

    The Spanish-American War marked the establishment of our overseas empire, but we had been an imperial power since the first wars against our neighboring sovereign nations: the tribes.

    The wars against the tribe were already imperialist wars long before we undertook any overseas adventures.

    (I don’t have my copy of Zinn’s classic, A People’s History of the United States, at hand, but it didn’t take long to find an example.)

    A Christmas Eve Battle for Freedom
    By William Loren Katz
    December 24, 2009

    Editor’s Note: The United States prides itself as a nation that fights for freedom and human rights, yet it often obscures heroic battles in which the U. S. government was on the side of the oppressors.

    One such battle occurred 172 years ago on Christmas Eve in the swamps of south-central Florida, as author William Loren Katz describes in this guest essay:

    This Christmas Eve marks the 172nd anniversary of a battle for liberty in 1837 on the banks of Lake Okeechobee, Florida, that helped shape the United States of America.

    An estimated 380 to 480 freedom-fighting African and Indian members of the Seminole nation threw back an advance of more than a thousand U.S. Army and other troops led by Colonel Zachary Taylor, a future President of the United States.

    The Seminoles so badly mauled the invaders that Taylor ordered his soldiers to fall back, bury their dead, tend to their wounded . . . and ponder the largest single U.S. defeat in decades of Indian warfare.

    The battle of Lake Okeechobee is not a story you will find in school or college textbooks so it has slipped from the public consciousness. But in a country that cherishes its freedom-fighting heritage, Black and Red Seminoles of Florida sent everyone a message that deserves to be remembered and honored.


    Closer to the present day, I think you’d both agree that we weren’t on the rails when MLK made his “Beyond Vietnam” speech.

    I’m sorry, my dearly beloved Sisters, but I just can’t stand all the “off the rails” tropes so common these days. When were we on them?

    The received view: that there’s something exceptional about America; leaves us expectantly waiting for a power outside of our individual selves to rectify our wayward nation. There is no such exceptional American power. We’ve always been imperfect.

    But all is not lost. In my opinion, you both are extraordinary examples of the only power worthy of our admiration, the only power capable of saving us: the power of “ordinary” Americans like yourselves, and MLK, to struggle towards a more perfect Union.

  3. dutchbradt says:

    @ knowbuddhau

    Well said.

  4. @knowbuddhau: You have excellent, well-made points. No disagreement here. Thank you for coming out and sharing it. And, I admire outspoken reasonable people like yourself who speak up, speak the truth.

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