Yesterday, more than one thousand people marched in Washington D.C. in protest against U.S. government policies, begun under George W. Bush and continued under Barack Obama, that enable torture and authorize the lengthy imprisonment of people without criminal trial.
171 of the protesters were dressed in orange jumpsuits and black hoods, as the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have been made to dress. 171 prisoners are thought to remain at Guantanamo Bay to this day.
The protesters in DC didn’t know what the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay might be guilty of, but that’s the point. In the system of law that the United States of America has known, there is a presumption of innocence. Guilt can only be constitutionally determined through due process of law, including protection from self-incrimination and a fair trial.
Those standards have been thrown away at Guantanamo Bay, and now, thanks to the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act last month, and Barack Obama’s signature on the legislation, the low standards of justice that have been enforced at Guantanamo Bay are now in effect all across the USA. In this sense, the thousand protesters in DC yesterday were not just protesting for the prisoners at Guantanamo. They were protesting for the rights of us all.