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Former Guantanamo prosecutor calls Obama lecturer and hypocrite for photo-op at Mandela’s island prison

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Great interview by Amy Goodman of Colonel Morris Davis, who resigned as prosecutor at Guantanamo in protest in 2007 and now teaches at Howard University. He calls on Obama to lead the public to the understanding that the prison should be shut down now. He cites the incredible expense, and the damage to the US image, and honors the hunger strikers at the prison. From July 11 show:

Yes. I mean, it’s a sad commentary about our country, that it takes people putting their lives at risk to get us to pause for a moment and pay attention to them, because, you know, the men at Guantánamo have largely been abandoned and forgotten, that, you know, they’ve been there in some cases for 11-and-a-half years now, and, in many cases, cleared to be transferred out. As an example, one of the detainee assessment briefs I discussed in the Manning trial was on a detainee that was assessed in that brief as being a high-risk, high-threat detainee, yet he’s on the to-be-transferred list that the Obama administration published back in 2010. But you’ve got a majority of the detainee population that has been cleared for transfer out, you know, people that the intelligence community, the law enforcement community, the military has unanimously agreed we do not want to detain, we don’t need to detain, because they’re not a threat. And as John McCain said a few weeks ago, that we’re spending $1.5 million per year per person to keep them at Guantánamo…

Well, there really is no good reason for Guantánamo. I mean, it was a bad idea when John Yoo and others in the Bush administration thought it was going to be this law-free zone that we could exploit people for intelligence, and it’s still a bad idea. And there’s no good reason. As I mentioned, the expense of operating it is outrageous…

Legally, it’s been a black hole for the law. I mean, every case that’s come out of Guantánamo, from Rasul to Hamdan to Boumediene, has been a black eye for the government. Policywise, both our enemies and our adversaries use Guantánamo against us..

I think the president–again, we don’t need a lecture; we need a leader. And he’s got to stand up and lead and bring this to an end. . . .

I think the logical choice, and the one that’s going to take leadership and not lectures, is to begin sending people home. You’ve got 86 of the prisoners that have been cleared unanimously by the U.S. government agencies. . . . Fifty-six of the 86 are Yemenis. The Yemeni government has asked for their people back. So, to me, that would be low-hanging fruit for the president to fly a plane to Guantánamo, load up those 56 Yemenis and send them home. . . .

Well, again, you know, to me, it was hypocritical. You saw recently when President Obama and his family visited South Africa, and he took Sasha and Malia to visit the cell—you know, it was billed in the media that the president took his daughters out to this island prison where Mandela spent 18 years in prison. And at the same time, he’s operating an island prison in Guantánamo, where people like Shaker Aamer and others—and again, the majority who have been cleared to be transferred out. And, you know, they haven’t quite made it to the 18-year point of Mandela, but there are people that have been there for 11-and-a-half years that we have cleared to be transferred home, and they still sit in prison. So, again, I think it’s going to take political will and backbone on the president’s part. And I think if he—you know, if the American people understood the truth, the real facts about Guantánamo—because I can tell you, when I go out and speak, there are people that say, “Hey, these guys all want to, you know, blow themselves up and kill Americans, so just let them die at Guantánamo,” and that’s not the case. So I think if he educated the public and if the public knew the truth, that the public would be outraged that Guantánamo is still open.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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6 Responses

  1. David Doppler on July 16, 2013, 2:23 pm

    A tale of two prisons. Great contrast. Mandela willing to be in prison for 27 years to protest injustice, Obama unwilling to exercise his authority to bring similar injustice to an end.

    • Citizen on July 17, 2013, 7:06 am

      Obama’s on record saying both to Americans and young Jewish Israelis if you want him to do something on a pressing issue, he needs to hear you, that is, you have to make your voice loud enough he can hear you. He will not take the lead, you must push him. I take it means, you gotta convince influential people or hand him tons of cash. Yet he does take the lead sometimes, e.g., going out in public and saying if he had a son, he’d look like T Martin. And he’s OK with Holder running risk of double jeopardy in that matter. Now, if only his hypothetical son looked like one of those guys in Guantanamo, or like a Palestinian boy manhandled by the IDF, or like Zimmerman, why he’d lead the nation, not wait to hear support. Imagine if his hypothetical son looked like Manning or Snowden.

  2. annie on July 16, 2013, 6:46 pm

    it’s awful, every time i think of the guantanamo prisoners ..there’s no words for it how ashamed i am of my country. no words. obama is a coward. there’s no reason for them to be suffering like this. end it now.

    • American on July 16, 2013, 7:46 pm

      My anger at my govermnent for this unspeakable horror of shutting up and locking away them with no end in sight literally triggers my claustrophobia if I dwell it for too long.
      Do not know how they stand this limbo hell on earth..
      I would ask god or whatever spirits might exist to forgive the US for this but dont think we deserve forgiving.

    • Hostage on July 16, 2013, 7:57 pm

      It’s doubly unfortunate when the US administrations parrot their line of crap about the Israeli actions having no legitimacy when they are violating the very same Fourth Geneva Convention prohibition on population transfers and deportations – and our own allies consider Guantanamo to be a grave breach or war crime, i.e.

  3. tommy on July 17, 2013, 12:26 am

    Thank you for publicizing this symbol of Obama’s hypocrisy. If Mandela were lucid, he should condemn the president for using his long suffering incarceration as a publicity prop for Obama’s masquerade as a social democratic liberal.

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