Ball State student waterboarded to show support for Guantanamo Bay closure

Ball State Gitmo ProtestDespite President Barack Obama’s failed attempts to shutter Guantanamo Bay, students at Ball State University staged a demonstration voicing their support for the detention center’s closing, even going so far as waterboarding a student.

Students stood in silent protest for an hour in an effort to persuade Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) to sign the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. The students, members of Ball State’s Students for Creative Social Action and the university’s Amnesty International chapter, donned orange jumpsuits with black head pieces while other members dressed in military fatigues to simulate the roles of Guantanamo Bay detainees and the personnel who watch over them.

“The point of the silent protest was to represent the voicelessness of the people down there and give a voice to this cause ending indefinite detention,” Matthew Smith, director of Ball State’s Amnesty International chapter, told Red Alert Politics.

Both student groups hope to see Guantanamo detainees receive a fair trial in U.S. courts or release those who have been cleared, he said.

Since its opening in 2002, reports indicate several prisoners were waterboarded at the base — which houses several suspected members of al-Qaeda and Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Additionally, many of the detainees have protested their own detention through a hunger strike, which led to force feeding from military personnel.

The waterboarding of the prisoners sparked the idea for members of SCSA to conduct their own interrogation using the technique. “Detainees” and their “prison guards” marched from the school’s student center to Bracken Library, the nucleus of Ball State’s campus.

As onlookers gathered outside the library, Caleb Hoagland — vice president of SCSA and an Army veteran — laid on his back, and Smith placed a cloth over his face, pouring a jug of water over the material.

“I kept telling myself it’s not fatal,” Hoagland told Ball State’s The Daily. “I trust Matt Smith, but there was a point where some primal part of my brain said, ‘You’re going to die.’ I kept breathing and water was going in. It really tricks your brain into thinking you’re drowning.”

A petition urging Donnelly to take action on the 2014 NDAA circulated through a crowd of passersby who gathered to watch. Though the group received support prior to the waterboarding, many students lent their signatures after watching the staged interrogation.

“Seeing a body gasping for air and just knowing how much it means to be breathing, you really appreciate breathing,” Ariana Brown, SCSA’s president, told Red Alert Politics. “It just made it easier to emphasize. A lot of people conceptualize everyone in Guantanamo Bay as the worst person ever and that they’re bad people. So to see someone suffering, to see a physical person suffering in front of you, that makes it a lot easier to relate to that person. … This really put a face on the issue.”

But SCSA’s event didn’t sway everyone to join in efforts to close the facility.

“Guantanamo Bay uses interrogation techniques to gain information on future terrorist attacks to protect the American people,” Hillary Cherry, program officer of public relations at Young America’s Foundation, told Red Alert Politics in an email. “Smith and Hoagland should be thankful to our soldiers stationed at Guantanamo for protecting their First Amendment rights to stage this appalling protest in the first place.”

And SCSA and Amnesty International club members faced backlash from fellow students who felt they were disrespecting the military, Smith, 21, said.

“My response to that is, first of all, I think it’s disrespectful to order our military members, our service members to perform this sort of procedure and the psychological trauma that goes along with that and also, this is something that the existence of Guantanamo and the existence of these sort of policies actually undermine U.S. national security and put our service members at risk,” he said.

Since President George W. Bush opened the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay in 2002, 779 detainees have been housed, with 164 still held on the base. President Barack Obama campaigned in 2008 on the promise to shutter the detention center, though his efforts have failed.

Obama did, however, lift a moratorium allowing low-level detainees to transfer from the facility in Cuba to Yemen.

The 2014 National Defense Authorization Act — passed by the House but still in the Senate — maintains the prohibition of detainee transfers from Guantanamo to the United States or to countries with “confirmed cases of transferred detainees returning to the fight.”

The bill was approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee with transfer provisions altered to make them less strict. It remains on the Senate’s calendar.

h/t Young America’s Foundation

Comments

Polititainment

Stewart weighs in on Garland shooting

Jon Stewart had a message Monday night--and he repeated it a lot, because people were seemingly not getting it.

Melissa Joan Hart 'not that up on 2016'

The actress, who was vocal about her support for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012, told The Hill in a recent interview that she is "not that up on 2016 yet."

Letterman mocks Bernie Sanders

73-year-old Sen. Bernie Sanders, who recently announced he's running for president as a Democrat, is not exactly known for his smooth looks.

Christie ally vs. Kirstie Alley

Friday morning, the news outlet alerted its keen Twitter followers to the fact that Chris Christie ally -- an ally. of. Chris. Christie -- David Wildstein was expected to plead guilty in the scandalous George Washington Bridge "Bridgegate" case that plagued the New Jersey governor last year.

Jeb Bush wants to hang with Pitbull

The likely GOP presidential candidate told TMZ in an impromptu conversation that he would choose two individuals -- one a deceased former president and the other a Cuban-American rapper -- with whom attend a baseball game.

2016

Melissa Joan Hart unsure who to support in 2016

The actress, who was vocal about her support for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012, told The Hill in a recent interview that she is "not that up on 2016 yet."

Anna Wintour comes out for Hillary & against guns
In an interview with New York Magazine, Vogue’s longtime editor and chief Anna Wintour, was asked about how “Hillary balked at the idea of being Vogue” during her 2008 presidential run. Despite being snubbed, Wintour announced she’s ready for Hillary. She said, “I hope so! Of course. Yes. But it’s only just started,” when asked if […]
Bill Clinton: I need speeches to pay bills

Bill Clinton said in an interview with NBC's "Today" that he will continue to deliver paid speeches throughout Hillary's presidential campaign in order to "pay [their] bills."

Carly Fiorina loses her tech cred
Carly Fiorina has 30,000 reasons to frown. Despite saying, “I understand technology, which is a tool to both reimagine government and to re-engage citizens in the process of government,” her campaign team apparently didn’t. CarlyFiorina.org was purchased by Michael Link, assistant director of digital strategy at SEIU, the website now features 30,000 frown faces. One […]
2016 GOP field varies on immigration
Immigration and assimilation took the forefront at the National Review Institute Ideas Summit where the opinions on immigration from the 2016 Republican field could not have been more diverse. Former Gov. Jeb Bush bluntly told immigration hawks including National Review’s editor Richard Lowry, “I love you. I just think you’re wrong.” He even lashed out against […]

Policy

Anna Wintour comes out for Hillary & against guns
In an interview with New York Magazine, Vogue’s longtime editor and chief Anna Wintour, was asked about how “Hillary balked at the idea of being Vogue” during her 2008 presidential run. Despite being snubbed, Wintour announced she’s ready for Hillary. She said, “I hope so! Of course. Yes. But it’s only just started,” when asked if […]
Snowden, Assange, Manning get statues in Berlin

Statue tributes to whistle-blowers are all the rage right now.

Texas proposes tax holiday weekend for gun sales
Tax free weekends usually call to mind back to school shopping, but a new bill in Texas wants to make it much more Second Amendment friendly. The Texas state Senate approved a proposal Thursday 21 to 10 that would create a sales tax holiday for firearms, ammunition and hunting supplies during the last weekend in August, […]
Rand Paul vs. Homeland Security secretary

Rand Paul spent Wednesday going head to head with Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, demanding to know whether Johnson could justify the government's bulk data collection under the Fourth Amendment.

Seattle's $15 min. wage claims a new victim
Pizza shop worker Devin Jeran was excited about the raise that was coming his way thanks to Seattle’s new $15 an hour minimum wage law. Or at least he was until he found out that it would cost him his job. Jeran will only see a bigger paycheck until August when his boss has to shut […]