Gettin’ down to Gitmo

A pair of well-known Bay Area activists will take part in a delegation visiting Cuba next week to protest the U.S. prison for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay.

Global Exchange and CODEPINK activist Medea Benjamin of San Francisco and Berkeley “Peace Mom” Cindy Sheehan will be part of the crowd holding a conference on prison abuses and marching to the Cuban security gate facing the U.S. Navy base at which the prison is located. The trip, from Jan. 9 through 13, surrounds the Jan. 11 “International Day to Shut Down Guantanamo,” marking the fifth anniversary of the first prisoners’ arrival.

Other delegation members include Zohra Zewawi of Dubai, who says her son has been tortured and blinded in one eye but never charged or tried during his detention since September 2002; Asif Iqbal, a former detainee freed without charges; retired U.S. Army Col. Ann Wright; Adele Welty, a New Yorker whose firefighter son was killed on 9/11 and who now is a member of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows; and Bill Goodman, the U.S. Center for Constitutional Rights‘ legal director who has taken the cases of Guantanamo detainees to the US Supreme Court.

After Cuba, a smaller group will return to the U.S. to lobby Congress to shut the prison, restore habeas corpus rights, repeal the Military Commissions Act, and give all detainees fair trials or release them.

Meanwhile, the FBI released documents yesterday that say agents saw possible mistreatment of the Quran at the Guantanamo Bay prison, including at least one case in which a U.S. Marine Corps interrogator squatted over Islam’s holy text in an apparent attempt to offend a captive.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.