The term “Gitmo-mentum” was coined by Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU, to describe the growing support behind the restoration of our Constitution and the closure of Guantanamo Bay.
Notes from the June 26th, 2007 Day of Action to Restore Law and Justice.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I traveled to Washington DC calling for the restoration of habeas corpus, the closure of Guantanamo Bay (and other torture facilities like it), and for repairing portions of the Military Commissions Act which give the President sole power as judge, jury and jailer.
Although this was one of the smallest rallies I’ve attended, it was also one of the best organized and most powerful. Attendance reached about 4,000, but we represented millions. It was a pleasure to see, first hand, Senator Leahy hold our petitions in the air with emphatic support after hearing him say, in essence, that the war on terror is no excuse for torture. A most poignant speaker was Sister Diana Ortiz, Executive Director of Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International. Her lasting horrors from unwarranted torture moved me in a way I cannot explain. You can find a full list of speakers and video clips by visiting the ACLU website.
After getting all fired up, activists from every state stormed the Hill. This was the first time I have been part of a lobbying session, our Albany/Rensselaer County based group visiting the offices of Senator Clinton and Representative Gillibrand.
The following progress report was sent out on July 6th by Anthony D. Romero, the Executive Director of the ACLU:
It was overwhelming to see so many people in Upper Senate Park as we delivered more than 250,000 petitions to restore our rights. Together with our partners more than 85 of them we represented millions of people.
More than 4,000 of us, from every state in the nation, rallied and then stormed Capitol Hill for meetings with Members of Congress, demanding that we restore the Constitution. Thousands more who couldn’t make it in person took action from home. Since the Day of Action we’ve seen real progress and more is in the works. Here’s just a small sample:
- In less than 24 hours, five lawmakers signed on as co-sponsors of critical habeas restoration bills. And the list of co-sponsors has continued to grow this past week. Just since June 26th, two senators co-sponsored the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act, four representatives co-sponsored the Restoring the Constitution Act, and three representatives co-sponsored the House’s version of the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act. We expect more activity and co-sponsors in the coming weeks.
- Over 140 representatives signed an open letter to President Bush urging him to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay on Friday, June 29th. You can read the letter and see if your representative signed here.
- Rally speaker Senator Leahy has promised to do everything he can to get a floor vote on restoring habeas corpus in the Senate in the coming weeks. You’ll be hearing from us with more details and a call to action whenever this happens. See Senator Leahy’s webpage, featuring the day of action, here.
- The Supreme Court decided to review an appeal by Guantanamo detainees. The detainees are seeking to challenge the legality of their detention in federal court. The Court had previously declined to hear the appeal in April, but reversed course in an order issued on Friday, the final day of the Supreme Court Term. For more insight into this unique and highly unusual turn of events read Gabe Rottman’s post on our Find Habeas blog.
I’m grateful for this update. It’s fabulous to know that there has been measurable success and that the people still do have the power to create change, even without the coverage of the “liberal” media.