In the long struggle to close Guantánamo, protests took place in Washington D.C. and across America on the 10th anniversary of the opening of the prison on January 11, and the newly established “Close Guantánamo” campaign (of which I am a member of the steering committee) launched a petition on the White House’s “We the People” website, calling on President Obama to fulfill his promise to close the prison, which he made when he took office three years ago, and pointing out how fundamentally unjust it is that 89 of the remaining 171 prisoners have been cleared for release, and yet are still held.
That petition needs to secure 25,000 signatures by February 6, to oblige the President to respond, and at the time of writing, over 4,300 people had signed it. Many groups have been asking their supporters to sign it, and yesterday the Center for Constitutional Rights publicly added their voice to the campaign, sending out an email alert to all their supporters, asking them to sign the petition, and also asking visitors to the “Close Guantánamo” page on their website to sign it.
The embedded clock above [Note: removed after the petition reached its time limit] was also created by CCR, and, in further publicity, three videos featuring speeches made outside the Supreme Court on January 11 — by Andy Worthington, by conscientious objector Daniel Lakemacher, who worked as a guard at Guantánamo, and by CCR’s executive director Vince Warren — have also been made available on CCR’s “Close Guantánamo” page, and are posted below.
I’d like to thank CCR for their support, and, in conclusion, if you haven’t yet signed the petition, please do so, and please also forward it to ten of your friends and family members. Time is running out, and we need 2,000 signatures a day for the next ten days to show that we care about the closure of Guantánamo, and that we are not prepared to put up with any more excuses from the administration or from members of Congress.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in June 2011, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
On Facebook, Mezentian Gate wrote:
Judging by Obama’s actions in the last three years, what basis has anyone for still thinking rights to life liberty & property are part of his philosophy?
His answer for everything is more spending… and more rules.
I agree, Mezentian. He has a very disappointing record, to put it mildly. However, his administration argued for a waiver in the NDAA that allows them to release prisoners from Guantanamo without Congressional interference, so it is worth pushing for the closure of Guantanamo.
And the petition now has 4,328 signatures. That’s 800 in the last two days! Thanks, everyone!
Rafael Shimunov wrote:
I’ve seen some issues on PCs with Firefox, so if anyone gets a blank form, we should advise to try another browser.
That’s interesting, Rafael. Thanks. A number of people have reported problems, that’s for sure, but no one has discussed which browser they were using, or whether that was significant.
Rafael Shimunov wrote:
From what I understand, there have been two sets of problems. The first with the WH site in general, which may have been limited to earlier this week. We hope. And the second that is emerging is an error in their code that generates a blank page when choosing to create an account. So far in my testing, this only occurs on Firefox on PCs.
That’s very interesting indeed, Rafael. Thanks again. I very much hope that the problems with the site itself have been resolved, as they were proving to be a serious obstacle. I hope people pick up on the information about the specific problem with Firefox and PCs.
Alces Acres wrote:
Go Cousin Andy!
Ya’ll Too, Sign This Puppy!
Don’t Put YOUR Stamp of Approval on it by NOT doing anything.
Great encouragement, Alces! Love it.
We’re now at 4,504 signatures. Thanks, everyone. Please tell all your friends and family members.
I have already signed this; I sign up for information emails from all activist groups NGOs and News Outlets. I am a strong believer that we need many more people to act regarding this issue; the vast majority do nothing.
Thank you, Peace Activist. I wish there were many more people like you.
Dessie Harris wrote:
trying to create an account before i sign the petition???? Does not seem to work, is there another way of signing the petition, or could you add my name on it please?
Some people have reported problems registering, Dessie, I’m sorry to say. Can you try using another computer, or another server? I don;t know what you’re using, but problems have been reported with Firefox and PCs. I don’t think it says much for the perceived reliability of the White House when the President’s own petition site is fraught with problems …
Dessie Harris wrote:
Assuming the Whitehouse does not want people to sign the petition!!
That would appear to be the case, wouldn’t it, Dessie, even though I think the more likely explanation is simply that the White House’s IT people could have been better at their job! I tend to choose incompetence as an explanation before conspiracies!
Dessie Harris wrote:
Love this…. thanks x
Dhyanne Green wrote:
Yippee, finally after about 45 minutes jigging around setting up ‘this and that’ I have finally been able to sign. Continued Peace – Love – Blessings to you Andy and all you share with the world.
David V Barrett wrote:
”problems have been reported with Firefox and PCs” — that’s ridiculous. That’s countless millions of people. Including me.
I’ve just spent 25 minutes struggling to change my already existing password because the site wouldn’t recognise it. Then I finally manage to log in using your link — and it just takes me to my profile page, not to anything I can sign. Another 10 minutes on several attempts at that with the same result — sorry, Andy, I’ve given up. I wonder how many others have too.
Thanks for your perseverance, Dhyanne, and I’m very sorry to hear about your insurmountable problems, David – and of others who have been obliged to give up. It’s very frustrating, and reflects very badly on the White House, which has already shown its lack of concern for us by giving up on the closure of Guantanamo.
Very obviously, David, the problem is with the White House, but someone with technical expertise had been analyzing some of the problems, and had particularly identified the Firefox/PC combination as troublesome. But then someone using Google Chrome couldn’t sign, and then someone with a Mac, and then it became apparent that there was no solution outside of the White House itself. I’ll try sending a complaint – if I can get through!
David V Barrett wrote:
Thanks Andy. I wasn’t moaning at you, of course — and yes, if you can get through it might be worth letting the White House know how cumbersome their system is — except they’ll probably accuse you of hacking into it and try to extradite you to serve a 568-year sentence…
David V Barrett wrote:
I got there in the end:
Sign in, then open the petition in another tab, and keep reloading until the Sign Petition button stops being greyed out.
Well done, David. I wonder if we could get the White House to print these instructions prominently on their generally useless website.
Meg Catfish Lyons wrote:
It worked, just had to make my computer load the WH page, without all the computer security settings. Signed!!!!
Hooray! Thanks for your persistence!
George Kenneth Berger wrote:
I signed it, Andy. Success. Like David more or less (see above), I signed in and out and in again, until the gray signing field turned green. Then I signed.
Congratulations, George. Such a shame that it involves jumping through such hoops. 4,645 signatures now!
Genifer Kaye wrote:
Even after creating an account, the “sign the petition” button is grayed out. I will keep trying.
Advice from my friend David V. Barrett, Genifer (and sorry it’s so complicated – the White House ought to be ashamed of the problems on the site):
A trick for getting the not-very-helpful website to work:
Having created an account, then persuaded it to accept your password (this can take a while), you’ll then find you’re on your profile page, miles away from the petition. In another tab, reclick the link to the petition: https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions#!/petition/close-guantanamo-now/6cMPlxQw
If the Sign Now button is greyed out, make sure you’re logged in, then reload the petition page. Eventually you’ll get there, but they don’t make it easy.
We’re now on 5,438 signatures, which is 800 in the last three days. Thanks to Maryam for mobilizing the British Muslim vote, and to everyone else who cares, and who has managed to overcome the obstacles placed in their way by the White House’s web designers.
David Knopfler wrote:
It really is a disgrace… because in the last analysis the Whitehouse advisors to Obama will take from this a conveniently false inference. I wonder if anyone from the other petitions there is experiencing the same difficulties – it would be helpful to know. That said, the ignorance about GITMO, in some circles, is still pretty breathtaking, despite the excellent work people like yourself have done. I noticed for example after Clive Stafford Smith wrote a piece in the Telegraph, it produced nothing but streams of profoundly ignorant vitriol in the comments section.
That sounds about right, David. The kind of vitriol you mention has been tacitly allowed to thrive because of the failure, in the US, to close Guantanamo, to thoroughly repudiate the crimes of the Bush administration, and, crucially, to hold anyone accountable. It’s why I describe torture as a virus that infects all those societies that accept it, as America did after 9/11.
As for the website, I sent a complaint via the feedback page today, and will see if I receive a reply. I imagine the problem is across the site, meaning that we have also been up against ignorance and indifference – plus the fact that many who oppose the existence of Guantanamo don’t trust the White House, especially since the passage of the NDAA. So we’ll learn some lessons from this, although I haven’t given up just yet. Two people signed while I was writing this!
5,557 now. One signature every three minutes. That’s got to count as bit of a roll …
5,565 now! That was 8 signatures in a couple of minutes just then!
Just reached 5,600. Thank you, everyone!
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