Civil liberties advocates rally in San Francisco against torture and NDAA

On June 26, in recognition of Torture Awareness Month and the UN International Day in Support of Torture Victims, representatives from several organizations challenged the domestic military detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) at a rally against the NDAA in San Francisco. Speakers at the event called for Congress to end indefinite detention, close Guantanamo Bay, demand accountability for torture, and rescind the NDAA.

BORDC Executive Director Shahid Buttar spoke at the rally, calling on grassroots supporters to demand -- not only of their federal representatives, but also their local and state governments -- that the NDAA be amended to restore due process and the right to trial:

How can we claim to live in the land of the free, when subject to arbitrary government authority to lock up anybody and through away the key?

Other speakers at the rally included Bob Meola of the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission, William Butkus from Amnesty International, Nancy Mancias from Code Pink, Zahra Billoo of CAIR San Francisco Bay Area, Emma Cape of the Bradley Manning Support Network, and Samina Sundas of American Muslim Voice.

The NDAA is an unconstitutional infringement on our constitutional rights, according to a recent ruling by U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York. Presiding over a case brought by journalists who fear military detention in retaliation for interviewing sources disliked by the U.S. government (like Julian Assange), Judge Forrest noted the chilling effect on First Amendment freedoms of speech and the press. BORDC filed an amicus brief in the suit, arguing in particular that Article III of the Constitution specifies a process for allegations of treason, which the NDAA essentially aims to replace without satisfying the procedural requirements for constitutional amendments set forth in Article V.

While the case in federal court proceeds, anyone can get involved in the struggle to restore due process and the right to trial by seeking a resolution from your local government opposing the domestic military detention provisions of the NDAA and 2001 AUMF.

For instance, in the wake of Northampton, MA and Takoma Park, MD taking such action, Berkeley, CA recently became the fifteenth local government to pass a resolution against NDAA, further stating that it will:

Instruct all our public agencies to decline requests by federal agencies acting under detention powers granted by the NDAA that could infringe upon residents’ freedom of speech, religion, assembly, privacy, or rights to counsel.

After hosting last month's rally downtown, the diverse grassroots coalition emerging across the SF Bay Area will host two more events this month to raise awareness about the NDAA and invite participants to take further action. One, on July 29, will be at the Unitarian Universalist Center, 1187 Franklin at Geary. Another, on July 31, will be hosted across the bay at the Oakland Peace Center. BORDC's Shahid Buttar will speak at both events.

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