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Guantanamo Protestors Lobby Sen. Scott Brown's office

The fourth day of our activities in Washington to close Guantanamo, Friday, January 14, began with a vigil outside the White House, followed by lobbying. We joined the Catholic Workers at noon on Fridays in a vigil which has been going on for years. In the afternoon, we visited Congress. I joined a group of 6 others from Massachusetts, mostly western MA, at a meeting with two staffers from Senator Scott Brown’s office. Neither Senator Kerry’s nor Rep Michael Capuano’s staffers who dealt with those issues were available today, but we did drop off some materials for Senator Kerry.

The only thing we could all agree on with the staffers for Sen Brown was that torture is wrong. The aides assured us that Sen. Scott was clear and adamant about that, but he does believe that the detainees present a threat to the United States if we settle them here. One reason given was that their presence could provoke a terrorist attack on the place where the prison was located. We told them about the two Massachusetts towns, Amherst and Leverett, that have invited detainees to resettle there, and they had heard of that effort. We showed them two pieces of legislation that Barbara Lee has introduced in the House and asked that Senator Scott introduce similar bills in the Senate. The first one would say that the only money that can be spent in Afghanistan is for an orderly withdrawal of our troops and all personnel. The other one, “Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force,” says “Congress finds that the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note), signed into law on September 18, 2001, has been used to justify a broad and open-ended authorization for the use of military force and such an interpretation is inconsistent with the authority of Congress to declare war ...” The aides told us that it was highly unlikely that the senator would do this, since he approves of our presence in Afghanistan and he believes that the “War on Terror” is necessary. We said we hoped he would at least work to release the men already cleared for release, which seemed more within the realm of possibility. The aides promised to look at all our materials carefully and to pass along our concerns to the senator. They at least heard us, good and proper, even if we didn’t get the answers we were hoping from them. 

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