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

Michael Bay might direct Benghazi movie

Bay, who has spent the last several years gaining popularity for his "Transformers" films, is reportedly in talks to direct the Benghazi film "13 Hours," according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Holder wants Denzel to play him in movie

Holder spoke to The Hill about Hollywood and politics while at an event at the Washington Ideas Forum Wednesday that was hosted by The Aspen Institute and The Atlantic.

'Rival Survival' premiering Wednesday

Senators Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) are getting ready to show America their bipartisan fire-starting skills on "Rival Survival," a reality show starring tho lawmakers that premiers Wednesday night on the Discovery Channel.

Lovitz has a field day with Hillary

Before Hillary Clinton's jobs comment is swept aside as a minor whoopsie, a few words from Jon Lovitz.

John Oliver has some ideas for the FDA

Some people want more nutrition information on food labels--but who really understands those labels anyway?

White House

Russian hackers broke into the White House network

Hackers with suspected ties to the Russian government recently broke into the White House’s unclassified computer network, the Washington Post reported Tuesday night.

Obama is withholding over 15,000 Fast and Furious documents

President Obama claimed executive privilege to withhold over 15,000 documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious, including nearly 20 emails sent between Attorney General Eric Holder and his wife.

White House fence jumper charged with assault
WASHINGTON (AP) — The 23-year-old Maryland man who climbed over the White House fence Wednesday night has been charged with felonies for assaulting two police dogs and making threats, the Secret Service said Thursday. Dominic Adesanya of Bel Air, Maryland, is in custody of the U.S. Marshals Service for previous outstanding warrants, Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said. […]
President Obama, unpaid bills and the curious editing of the White House transcript
President Obama, some unpaid bills and a curiously “inaudible” section of the White House recording of a speech — that’s how all good stories start, right? While at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Chicago, Obama cracked a joke about the “unpaid bills” at his home. The joke was reported by the White House Press […]
Secrecy shrouds how the Obamas cook their chicken wings

Now it seems the Obamas are tight-lipped even about their eating habits.

Congress

Justin Amash envisions a libertarian Congress

Rep. Justin Amash, the libertarian congressman from Michigan, knows that Congress is far from libertarian. But someday, he thinks that might change.

Rand Paul: The GOP's image ‘sucks’

Rand Paul didn’t mince words about the GOP.

Small college's students thrown into 2014 election

Young people tend not to engage much in the humdrum local politics that go into midterm elections. But what if it’s happening literally in their own backyard?

GOP senator: 'Sorry the government's so f***ed'

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) made some self-deprecating jokes and colorful remarks about the state of the government during a recent private gathering, per a recording provided to CNN by South Carolina Democrats.

Top lawmaker's Ebola claim

A leading House Republican says he is aware of information that points to the United States eventually receiving non-U.S. Ebola patients for treatment.