Veteran speaks on closing Guantanamo Bay

Elliott Adams describes himself as a patriotic American who loves his country.

And that, stresses the combat veteran of the Vietnam War, is what drives him to speak out against the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which he concludes is both illegal and immoral.

"This is not the America I grew up in," said the nationally-known activist. "This doesn't represent the American flag I salute. It does not reflect the principles of freedom I know.

"Holding somebody under conditions of torture indefinitely without trial and without charge, this violates our Constitution that has been in place more than 200 years," he added. "This is not the kind of people we are."

Moreover, the prison at the base known as "Gitmo" serves as a recruiting poster for terrorists bent on attacking the United States, he said.

Adams, 66, who went on an 80-day hunger strike that ended Aug. 4 as an attempt to bring attention to the prison, will give a free lecture on the Gitmo prisoners at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Medford. The event will be held in Lidgate Hall, Medford Congregational United Church of Christ, 1801 E. Jackson St., Medford.

Adams, who lives in Sharron Springs, N.Y., joined the army when he was 18. As a member of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, he soon found himself in combat in the central highlands of Vietnam.

"At the time, I believed I was doing the right thing for my country," he said, noting his attitude toward war changed diametrically since those days.

"It has been a long, slow process," said the past president of national Veterans For Peace. "It took me a long time to figure out that war was not the solution. It just works for the few people who make a vast amount of money from it."

Adams said his 80-day fast was in solidarity with the Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

More than 100 detainees began a hunger strike in February of this year to protest. Of those, 69 remain on strike with 45 of those being force-fed, and three are in the hospital.

"I wanted to bring attention to what was happening there," said Adams who testified before the congressional Judiciary Committee this past summer about the Gitmo prisoners.

Just before his congressional testimony, more than two dozen retired military leaders submitted a letter urging members of the committee to support steps closing the facility.

Adams' presentation is being organized and sponsored by Rogue Valley Veterans for Peace Chapter 156 and Citizens for Peace & Justice of Medford.

— Paul Fattig

Read more in Tuesday's paper.

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