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

Billy Joel: Obama smoking story 'untrue'

After a report emerged from a source for The Hill newspaper that Joel on a trip to Washington, D.C., claimed that he recently smoked a cigarette with President Obama, the musician is now denying the story.

Pharrell: Brown's actions 'bully-ish'

Musician Pharrell Williams said in a recent Ebony magazine interview that President Obama "should have gone down" to Ferguson to address the situation.

Billy Joel smoked with Obama

According to one of The Hill's sources, Obama invited Billy Joel to have a cigarette with him when the musician made a recent trip to the White House.

Beckham's catch = Obama's executive act

You know it is.

'SNL' remakes Schoolhouse Rock
“Saturday Night Live” hit today’s political process right on the nose during the show’s cold open. Spoofing Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill,” Kenan Thompson as the bill tried to explain how he becomes a law. But before he can make his way  to President Obama’s desk to be officially signed into law, Obama beats him […]

White House

White House claims Obama is ‘not a media critic’

The White House doesn’t really seem to have a problem contradicting itself, so maybe this latest whopper shouldn’t surprise us.

Obama uses turkey pardoning to joke about his executive action on immigration
This is one executive action President Obama is sure won’t ruffle Republicans’ feathers. In fact, he’s so sure of that fact that he decided to make a joke during the annual turkey pardoning referencing his unprecedented use of executive action to grant amnesty to 5 million illegal immigrants. “I’m here to announce what I’m sure will […]
Poll: Americans split on Obama’s immigration order
Americans are sharply split on their reaction to President Barack Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration that will essentially give amnesty to about five million undocumented immigrants,according to a new poll. The latest Quinnipiac University survey released Tuesday found that 45 percent of voters support the president’s move, while 48 percent opposes it. Support for […]
Eric Holder stresses that federal investigations in Ferguson are not over

Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement Monday night assuring rioters that the Justice Department still has two investigations to complete in Ferguson.

Obama appeals for calm after Ferguson decision

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama appealed for calm and understanding in Ferguson on Monday after a grand jury decided not to indict in the death of Michael Brown, pleading with both residents and police officers to show restraint.

Congress

Pelosi and Obama versus Schumer and America

This is like one of those times a member of a professional wrestling posse turns heel on national television and sets off the drama.

Rand blames 'politicians,' drug war in Ferguson

Sen. Rand Paul’s Time op-ed on Ferguson Tuesday blamed politicians for creating “a culture of violence” through the War on Drugs, and urged Ferguson protesters to “channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change.”

Why are House Members exempt from ethics training?
Two U.S. representatives are questioning a curious practice on the Hill that exempts House Members from ethics training. But it doesn’t look like they are getting much support from their colleagues that enjoy this perk. Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), and Scott Rigell (R-Va.), are urging congressional leaders to end the House exemption on the annual ethics […]
Paul calls for formal declaration of war on ISIS

Sen. Rand Paul wants Congress to formally declare war against ISIS.

The fallout from Boehner not owning a dog

President Obama's offer to smooth over an immigration reform compromise with Speaker John Boehner has turned out to be a case of barking up the nonexistent tree.