During any Thursday at high noon, you can find a few noble people who stand watch outside of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in Portland, Oregon. We wait for word that Judge Jay Bybee has resigned or has been impeached from a court we love. The 9th Circuit is the best court in our land.
We, Individuals for Justice, started our quest almost two years ago in front of what we thought was a progressive politician’s office. We called for the impeachment of Bush and his dick, we stood and waited for Congressman Blumenauer to join us in calling for a real investigation into why we invaded Iraq, the following occupation of that country, the torture of prisoners, the corruption and violations of so many laws and treaties that it makes your head spin just thinking about what Bush did to our country. We are/were retired union leaders, lawyers, teachers, activists, veterans and in some cases friends of the congressman. We stood outside his office for over 18 months every Thursday at high noon, he refused to meet with us, called us names, and refused to respond to our petitions, letters, phone calls and other pleas over the months. We decided to leave his front steps after Bush and his dick left the White House. We were disappointed but not defeated. We decided to protest/wait a bit outside of the 9th Circuit to call for the resignation of Judge Jay Bybee. This is part of a national protest to have this monster removed from a great and wonderful court. That is where you will see us any Thursday at high noon. Most people in downtown Portland do not know who this guy is, they may know of his assistant, a professor called John Yoo, but Bybee has remained under the radar, our job, as I see it, is to shine a light on this monster. Monster, too harsh a word?
If you put in two words in your search engine, Bybee/torture you will get 12,000 hits. The first one on my engine is, “Bybee Torture Memo-the full text. He justified the brutal, inhuman treatment of thousands of prisoners in our custody. We know over 100 of those who we locked up were beaten to death by flashlights, or water boarding or being strung up to the ceiling of their cages for days. We murdered people in our care--Americans did that and this monster justified it to the extent that President Obama does not want to go back and find out what happened and why, who, when and for “What cause.”
The title of this article is rage, and let me tell you what happened that caused me to blow up with such rage that it frightens even me. Last Thursday during our vigil/protest we were standing in front of the 9th Circuit and showing the people who passed by what it looks like to torture a human being. We took turns standing on a box with a hood over our heads, arms extended with wires hanging from them. What we were asking people to do was try to see how long they could just hold out their arms. We had a poster board hanging from their necks listing the record time to beat. Thursday’s record was about 15 minutes. The visual was very effective for the people who were walking by and we have handouts, cards and will talk to people who look like they wish to speak to us. We never push ourselves on people and never force confrontation, however we do and will respond when confronted. We usually have our hecklers, and this last Thursday was going along normally until about an hour into our stand. A man about my age, (60s) came up to us and started to question why we were going after a judge. In the middle of our arguing, a voice behind me yelled out that the man was correct and we were wrong. I turned around to see one of the federal security guys standing behind the metal gate and yelling at us that this passerby was right. What the passerby was saying was that torture is fine with him, he said things like, “They are terrorists, torture them, kill them; I don’t care.”
This reaction from a person who could not even answer simple questions like how many people were at Gitmo, how many judges sit on the Supreme Court, how many people are homeless in Iraq because of our invasion? Once I realized that this person knew nothing of what was going on in his own country I was about to just ignore him as a “Ditto-head” but the voice behind me pushed my buttons and I went into a rage. All the frustration of the last 8 years came flowing out, it frightened me.
The representative of the 9th Circuit was telling all in the area that torture is good. That it is fine for people to violate our laws and international laws; I could not believe my ears--he was in uniform, he represented the court and was yelling that torture is good--I just lost it and was screaming at the top of my lungs at him and had no control, I was just lost in all the killings, deaths, the children who were burned alive, I screamed out of control for the first time in years.
I will return to the vigil/protest a lighter person, the ugliness of this person will still be there, but I survived where I thought I would not, my friends worried that I would have a stroke, I worried that I had lost control and that should not happen. The man will continue to work at the court and his friends will continue to think we are just pains and life will go on. We must all take responsibility for what and where this country is heading, some very smart people see dictatorship coming, I see in my friends who stand in the rain and cold, hope----real hope, not what some politician will talk about and then do nothing. Back to the streets! Will you join us? This coming Thursday, Oct 8th we will be part of a national day against torture.
Joe Walsh-Lone Vet
Individuals for Justice
VVAW, Veterans Against Torture