Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Twenty-five American peace activists are ready to begin fasting Monday at the gates of the U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, after completing a 50-mile trek in protest of prison conditions and reported torture of detainees. The group, members of the Catholic Worker movement, seeks U.S. authorization to enter the base and meet with prisoners—some 500 of which are held there on suspicion of terrorist activities.Why does the Catholic Workers group seem to ring a bell? Give us a second -- we're sure it'll come to us . . . .
If the activists are granted access to the base, Cuban authorities have agreed to provide them with a military escort through the miles-wide Cuban base, littered with mines, that surrounds the U.S. facility. If denied, group members plan to hold a vigil and fast until their scheduled return to American ground on Saturday . . . .
According to military officials, 36 detainees are presently participating in hunger strikes, with 22 receiving internal nutrition through nasal tubes.
"There's a reason this naval base is on the island of Cuba: It's one of the few places in the world where international law doesn't exist—it's a vacuum," organizer Frida Berrigan, a researcher at the New School's World Policy Institute, said from New York last week.
Counterterrorism agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have conducted numerous surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations that involved, at least indirectly, groups active in causes as diverse as the environment, animal cruelty and poverty relief, newly disclosed agency records show . . . .Scoff if you will, but there is credible evidence that Mohammed Atta ordered a Vegan lunch at a restaurant in Prague in Spring, 2001 -- much to the consternation of the proprietors. As for PETA, just answer one question: when was the last time you saw Osama bin Laden in mink?
One F.B.I. document indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct surveillance as part of a "Vegan Community Project." Another document talks of the Catholic Workers group's "semi-communistic ideology." A third indicates the bureau's interest in determining the location of a protest over llama fur planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
The documents, provided to The New York Times over the past week, came as part of a series of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. For more than a year, the A.C.L.U. has been seeking access to information in F.B.I. files on about 150 protest and social groups that it says may have been improperly monitored.