[pjw] RSVP/NEWS: Mattis gives US troops a pep talk at Guantanamo (AP 12/21)
Peace and Justice Works
pjw at pjw.info
Thu Dec 21 16:44:45 EST 2017
Well, what a happy solstice bit of news this is.
Defense Secretary "Mad Dog" Mattis, who despite his nickname seems to have
a calmer head than our Commander-in-Chief, visited the troops in
Guantanamo today and told them to be ready for war with North Korea, even
though diplomacy (and plans for a post-war Korea????) are still being
discussed. He said nothing about the future of the prison there.
On that note, as a reminder we are holding a visibility action on January
11. Most of you probably don't know that my car has been severely
incapacitated for the last 3 months and it's unlikely it will be
funcitonal in time for this event. Thus, I'm hoping to find someone who's
willing to be part of the event, who owns a station wagon or larger
vehicle with a roof rack, that can help transport the Tower of Peace. This
will mean I'll need that person's help from 2:30 PM on Thurs Jan. 11 until
6:30 PM (an hour time for set up/transport and an hour to break down). It
would also be ideal if said person has the upper body strength to help
lift the 50-lb tower onto the car's roof. If you can help with this,
and/or are willing to lend your car to PJW for the afternoon, let me know.
Oh, and meanwhile our petulant President and his cronies are acting like
kids who want to take their ball and go home because the UN General
Assembly voted 128-9 to condemn the US' plan to move their embassy to
Jerusalem. (35 countries abstained including Mexico, Colombia, Canada and
Austrailia, 21 were absent). This was following the US vetoing a 14-1
resolution condeming the move in the Security Council.
Back to the detention camp: The article below notes that 26 of the 41
remaining prisoners are in extreme legal limbo. I don't know how many of
you read about the prisoners' artwork that was displayed at John Jay
College in NY last month, but it's a very moving story. The prisoners
having lived in landlocked Afghanistan had never seen the ocean, and when
a tarp blew away during one of the hurricanes they were able to see it for
a few days, so much of the art centered around ships and the ocean.
Who Owns Art From Guantanamo Bay? Not Prisoners, U.S. Says
OK, well, here's the news, keep in touch, and also, FYI so far we have 5.5
people for next Friday's mailing (12-2:30 PM), so if we can get 4-5 more
people that would be great....
peace and justice works iraq affinity group
Mattis gives US troops a pep talk at Guantanamo
By Robert Burns | AP By Robert Burns | AP December 21 at 3:49 PM
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba - On a rare visit to the home of the U.S.
military's prison for terror suspects, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis
offered a pep talk Thursday to American troops - and urged them to
always be ready for war.
"I need you to be at the top of your game," he told an assembly of
several hundred troops, citing their roles both as a fighting force and
as a positive example to a politically divided America of how to work
The unannounced visit was the first by a defense secretary since Donald
H. Rumsfeld came here in January 2002 shortly after the first prisoners
arrived from Afghanistan.
Mattis did not discuss the Trump administration's plans for the
detention center, nor did he visit it. But he stressed the importance
of keeping the Navy base as a U.S. toehold in southeastern Cuba. He
said it will not be abandoned, regardless of the future of the prison.
"We need this base badly," he said, as a strategic spot to conduct
humanitarian relief and other naval operations, as it had before the
Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Mattis spoke to three groups of troops, offering holiday greetings and
thanks for their service. He also fielded their questions as he stood
in a warm sun, and found that the prospect of war with North Korea was
on their minds.
Mattis said international efforts to compel North Korea to give up its
nuclear weapons are focused for now on diplomacy. He also emphasized
that effective diplomacy must be backed by a credible threat of
"We need to keep this in a diplomatic framework for solution," he
said,. But he added that in the event diplomacy fails, "you all have to
be ready to go."
Speaking to a few dozen Marines at a rifle range, Mattis described
North Korea as a "not yet imminent but a direct threat to the United
At another point, at an outdoor movie theater where troops and civilian
staff had gathered, Mattis said that during the Cold War, U.S. leaders
had been confident that Russia and China did not want to start a
"That may be an assumption we cannot make" with North Korean leader Kim
Jong Un, he said.
Mattis was asked if the U.S. has worked out planning for a post-war
Korean Peninsula, including the issue of reunifying the North and
South. He answered indirectly by saying, "We're probably not where we
need to be" in such discussions with Russia, China and others.
Mattis arrived at Guantanamo Wednesday night and was accompanied by an
Associated Press reporter. His overnight stop at Guantanamo comes amid
uncertainty over the Trump administration's policy on continued use of
the military prison.
Later Mattis was flying to Mayport Naval Station in Florida, and
planned on Friday to visit Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg in North
President Donald Trump hasn't released any Guantanamo prisoners or
added any to the list of men who have been officially cleared to go
home or to a third country for resettlement.
Forty-one prisoners remain in detention. Ten have been charged by a
military commission. Five have been cleared to leave, but their status
is in doubt under the current administration.
That leaves 26 in indefinite confinement. Some eventually could be
cleared for release, too, or prosecuted. Prisoners' lawyers are
considering filing new challenges, arguing that a policy of no releases
means the detainees' confinement no longer can be legally justified as
a temporary wartime measure.
President Barack Obama tried to close the detention center, but was
thwarted by Congress. Lawmakers objected to transferring detainees to
confinement facilities in the United States.
Mattis has said little publicly about Guantanamo Bay since taking
office in January. The subject wasn't raised in his Senate confirmation
In response to written questions submitted to him before that hearing,
he said: "I believe that we should develop a repeatable detainee policy
that is appropriate for enemy combatants taken prisoner under such
Asked whether the U.S. should keep detainees without trial, he said:
"Long-term detention is appropriate when an unprivileged enemy
belligerent poses a continuing significant threat to the security of
the United States."
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