Close Guantanamo now

ActivismUS Politics
on 9 Comments

Morris Davis, the Chief Prosecutor for the Terrorism Trials at Guantanamo Bay for more than two years, has authored a petition at calling for President Obama to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. In his introduction to the petition he writes:

As of April 29, 2013 – 100 of the 166 men who remain in Guantanamo are engaged in a hunger strike in protest of their indefinite detention. Twenty-one of them are being force-fed and five are hospitalized. Some of the men have been in prison for more than eleven years without charge or trial. The United States has cleared a majority of the detainees for transfer out of Guantanamo, yet they remain in custody year after year because of their citizenship and ongoing political gamesmanship in the U.S.

That is why I am calling on Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel to use his authority to effect cleared transfers from Guantanamo and on President Obama to appoint an individual within the Administration to lead the effort to close Guantanamo. Obama announced on April 30 that he plans to do his part to close Guantanamo, but he has made this promise before. Now is the time to hold him to his promise and urge him to take the steps necessary to dismantle Guantanamo Bay Prison.

If any other country were treating prisoners the way we are treating those in Guantanamo we would roundly and rightly criticize that country. We can never retake the legal and moral high ground when we claim the right to do unto others that which we would vehemently condemn if done to one of us.

Here is the full text of the petition:

President Obama
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington DC, 20500

Re: Concern about hunger strike and stalled efforts to close the detention
facility at Guantánamo Bay

Dear President Obama,

I am writing to urge you to take immediate steps to end indefinite detention without charge and begin closing the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay. If ever there was a moment to act upon the promise you made more than four years ago to close Guantánamo and begin to restore America’s reputation as the champion of the rule of law, it is now.

For several weeks, major news outlets, attorneys for the detainees, and even military officials have reported that there is a hunger strike occurring among a significant number of the men detained at Guantánamo. As a detention facility official told reporters during their visit the week of April 15, “there will be more than one death.” The current situation is the predictable result of continuing to hold detainees indefinitely without charge for more than eleven years. Therefore, I urge you to begin working to transfer the remaining detained men to their home countries or other countries for resettlement, or to charge them in a court that comports with standards we would accept if it was Americans on trial. I also urge you to appoint an individual within your administration to lead the transfer effort.

Specifically, I ask that you:

1) Direct Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel to use his authority to issue the certifications or national security waivers required by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA 2013) to effect transfers from Guantánamo.

2) Appoint an individual within your Administration to lead the effort to close Guantánamo.

3) Announce a concrete and specific plan to close the facility. As a first step and a clear signal that this is the beginning of a new chapter in Guantánamo’s legacy, you should immediately release Shaker Aamer and Djamel Ameziane.

I urge you to order the relevant authorities to take swift measures to humanely and lawfully address the immediate causes of the hunger strike in a manner consistent with international standards of medical ethics before irreparable harm occurs to the detainees. Moreover, I urge you to take steps to address the root of the problem by fulfilling your promise to close Guantánamo without further delay. While I stand ready to support the Administration’s efforts to close Guantánamo Bay in a manner consistent with its international legal obligations, this problem demands the leadership that only you as the President of the United States can provide. I urge you to act now.

[Your name]

Read more and sign here.

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9 Responses

  1. David Doppler
    May 1, 2013, 10:59 am

    Obama’s chief weakness is his weakness. How can the Commander-in-Chief of the US Armed Forces, in whom “[all of] the executive power of the United States” has been fully vested by the constitution, be unable to close this extra-territorial Hell hole? Who has a ring in his nose to pull him back from closing it tomorrow? And it’s only “complicated” for someone who’s afraid to exercise his power on a matter that goes to the heart of who we are as Americans. Obama doesn’t know what “executive” and “Commander” mean.

  2. valency
    May 1, 2013, 1:03 pm

    How much is this Kabuki theatre, though? Obama’s been talking up the possibility for some time, and may well like the political cover of appearing to be being pressured into it by someone like Morris Davis (think about it: only a /former prosecutor/ can call for the policy to be changed, like only Nixon is allowed to go to China.) We know Obama has no genuine humanitarian concerns in this game, but this hunger strike is causing bad PR, and the grassroots are unhappy.

    Given Congressional legislation, the only thing that Obama could do is disperse prisoners to other countries. I think this is orchestrated and will lead to one of Obama’s patented bait-and-switch psuedoprogressive manoevers where prisoners are transferred to CIA secret prisons rather than being tried or released, as promised way back in 2008.

  3. joemowrey
    May 1, 2013, 7:22 pm

    Obama has absolutely no problem violating U.S. and international laws regarding the extrajudicial assassination of people around the globe. But when it comes to violating a law passed by Congress which he claims prevents him from closing Guantanamo (a law, which by the way, he signed), well golly, his hands are tied. What disgusting bull roar.

    He is more than willing to send a bunch more psychos down there to force feed these poor people, an action which is clearly a form of torture and has been acknowledged as such by the UN and other international bodies. The fact that it is torture makes it a violation of U.S. law. So here’s the raw truth: this sociopath is choosing to break the law by torturing these guys rather than choosing to break the law by closing that hell hole and letting these guys go. He is choosing it. Get that? The man is not “weak” or “a poor negotiator.” He is a monster. Face reality. Quit apologizing for him.

  4. kylebisme
    May 1, 2013, 8:22 pm

    If any other country were treating prisoners the way we are treating those in Guantanamo we would roundly and rightly criticize that country.

    Nonsense. Other countries do treat prisoners similarly with little criticism from our establishment, Israel and Saudi Arabia being two notable examples.

  5. kalithea
    May 2, 2013, 1:24 am

    Guantanamo should be renamed “Revenge Camp”. The few times I see images of this Revenge Camp where the Law don’t reach, I think I’m witnessing some sick play called “Total Muslim Submission at the hands of U.S. domination” in a macho military twilight zone; a place where the human in humans is scorched from their system via cruel and inhumane treatment on behalf of the greater apathy and vindictiveness of America.

  6. Hostage
    May 2, 2013, 11:38 am

    If any other country were treating prisoners the way we are treating those in Guantanamo we would roundly and rightly criticize that country.

    Correction: More than criticism is required. Even the UK Supreme Court has ruled that the US is holding all of the prisoners in Guantanamo illegally – in what amounts to a grave breach of Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention of 1949 and Article 85 of the 1st Additional Protocol of 1977.

    So, the Supreme Court of our main NATO ally throughout the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has accused President Obama and the Prosecutor circulating this petition of war crimes punishable under Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. See UK Supreme Court Rejects Jack Goldsmith’s Interpretation of GC IV

  7. MRW
    May 2, 2013, 4:21 pm

    Hasn’t Obama heard of Executive Order? Flick of a pen, they’re outta’ there.

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