Join Me in Washington D.C. on January 11, 2013 to Tell President Obama to “Close Guantánamo”

1.1.13

I wrote the following article for the “Close Guantánamo” website, which I established in January with US attorney Tom Wilner. Please join us — just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email. 

CORRECTION: Please note that the panel discussion at the New America Foundation in Washington D.C. On January 11 will now take place at 10am, and not at 3pm, as listed below.

As the 11th anniversary of the opening of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay approaches, we at “Close Guantánamo” are making our preparations for being in Washington D.C. to call on President Obama to fulfill the promise he made four years ago, when he took office, to close the prison for good.

At 12 noon on Friday January 11, 2013, the 11th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, the attorney Tom Wilner and the journalist Andy Worthington, who make up the steering committee of “Close Guantánamo,” will be joining members of 24 other groups outside the Supreme Court to call for the closure of Guantánamo. See Amnesty International’s page here, and the flyer here.

The 25 groups involved are: Amnesty International USA, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Catholic Worker, Center for Constitutional Rights, Close Guantánamo, Code Pink, Council on American Islamic Relations, International Justice Network, Liberty Coalition, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, No More Guantánamos, North Carolina Stop Torture Now, Pax Christi USA, Physicians for Human Rights, Rabbis for Human Rights North America, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Tackling Torture at the Top, Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition, Veterans for Peace, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, War Resisters League, Washington Region Religious Campaign Against Torture, Witness Against Torture, Women Against Military Madness, and World Can’t Wait.

After meeting at noon, those calling for the closure of Guantánamo will march to the White House via the Capitol. The whole event will last until 1.30pm, and there will be speakers at the three venues.

Afterwards, Tom Wilner and Andy Worthington will head to the New America Foundation, at 1899 L Street, N.W., Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20036, for a panel discussion, beginning at 3pm, which will also feature Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor of the military commissions, who resigned in 2007, in protest at plans to use information derived through the use of torture, and Ramzi Kassem, an attorney for prisoners at Guantánamo including Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, whose story has featured regularly on the “Close Guantánamo” website in the last year. Ramzi helped to make notes from his meetings with Shaker available to Andy, at Shaker’s request, which were featured in the articles, EXCLUSIVE: “They Want Me to be Harmed”: Shaker Aamer, the Last British Resident in Guantánamo, Describes His Isolation, ”‘I Affirm Our Right to Life’: Shaker Aamer, the Last British Resident in Guantánamo, Explains His Peaceful Protest and Hunger Strike,” and “EXCLUSIVE: A Demand for ‘Freedom and Justice’ from Shaker Aamer in Guantánamo.”

We hope you can join us for these events. 2013 is the year that public pressure needs to be exerted on President Obama to release the 86 prisoners, out of the 166 men still held, who have been cleared for release since 2009 (and in some cases since George W. Bush was President), and, of the remaining 80, to try those proposed for trials by President Obama’s interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force, which published its report three years ago, and, preferably, to consult with us at “Close Guantánamo” regarding the others, who are currently held indefinitely without charge or trial, on the basis that they are allegedly too dangerous to release, even though insufficient evidence exists to put them on trial. We can confirm that what this means is that the so-called evidence is no such thing, and instead consists primarily of unreliable statements, mainly made by other prisoners in the “war on terror,” not only at Guantánamo, but also in the CIA’s “black sites.”

We are ready to meet with government officials to discuss the fundamentally unreliable basis of the so-called evidence against the majority of the prisoners at Guantánamo, and are making plans to publicize our findings as the year progresses.

But first, we hope to see as many of you as possible outside the Supreme Court, the Capitol and the White House on January 11 to tell the President that Guantánamo must be closed, and that the history books will regard him as a poor President if he failed to close Guantánamo, as he promised, because it was politically inconvenient.

The evils enshrined at Guantánamo must be brought to an end because they continue to poison America’s standing in the world. Shockingly, these involve hiding evidence of torture and abuse, sanctioned at the highest levels of the US government, through political maneuvering designed to keep the prison open forever, and to ensure that indefinite detention without charge or trial will continue, even though it is one of the hallmarks, not of civilized countries, but of brutal dictatorships with no respect for the law.

Please note: I am currently scheduling further events in the US, and will be announcing details soon.

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, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “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 please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

16 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Saleyha Ahsan wrote:

    seriously looking at coming….

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    That would be great, Saleyha. I’d like it, and you’d have a wonderful time! So many people to meet!

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Beverly Hendricks wrote:

    Will you be somewhere in the NY vicinity?

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, Beverly. Just sorted out a talk at Revolution Books on Sunday January 13 at 4pm with Ramzi Kassem, one of the attorneys for Shaker Aamer. That’s at 146 W. 26th Street (between 6th & 7th Ave). See you there?

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Sophie Lamarche Harkat wrote:

    coming to Canada ??

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    I wish I was, Sophie. I still haven’t managed to arrange a visit to Canada. Best wishes to you!

  7. Cosmic Surfer says...

    As usual, Andy, you bring the focus back to that which we, as Americans, must address.. Thank you.

    A write up to focus attention on the issues of Guantanamo on Sulla ( http://www.sulia.com) and hope to get more interest and awareness generated.

    Solidarity from Denver – as always – my brother

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Jan. Always good to hear from you, and to have your support. Wishing you the very best for 2013!

  9. Beth Adams says...

    Thank you for making the effort to come to DC and encouraging others to join you for this important Witness, Andy!

    The fact that 166 Muslims remain incarcerated having endured this barbaric treatment so long is enough for me to make the trip from Massachusetts. I would not miss it.

    I am sure that every effort on their behalf will mean a lot to them.

    Sign the petition to help send Shakar Aamer back to the UK! and send it out to friends and local lists, that will be important to do. If you go to the http://www.witnesstorture.org website, you can also find a link to send a prisoner a letter.

    Each one’s voice is important to create the changes we want to see in this world – close Guantanamo, then Bagram, (and other secret sites). End FBI entrapment and sting operations involving Muslim men, leading to unjustified incarceration, torture and traumatic separations from their families.

    See you there!

    Beth Adams

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Beth, for your commitment to justice. I look forward to meeting you in DC on the 11th!
    Thanks also for reminding people about the Shaker Aamer petition. There are actually two – one to the British government (UK citizens and residents only), and an international petition, open to all, on the Care 2 site, which is to the US and UK governments:
    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/33133
    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/shaker-aamerguantanamo-bay/

  11. Tom says...

    Hi Andy,

    In your travels to the States, have you actually met with any Congresspeople or other officials? If yes, who?

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    I met Jim Moran last year, Tom. He was a panelist with me and Tom Wilner and Col. Morris Davis at the New America Foundation. As I’m sure you know, in general it’s difficult – or almost impossible, to be honest – to interest lawmakers in the question of Guantanamo. Most Republicans don’t want to know, and although the last few years under Bush was the best time to interest Democrats (including one Senator Barack Obama), that interest waned rapidly when Obama became President. How we turn this around is one of the great challenges right now.

  13. Tom says...

    Adding to the above. I called some progressive Congresspeople to do some advance work for this (Bernie Sanders, Keith Ellison and Barbara Lee). The reasoning being go who seems to be the most active and approachable on Guantanamo. At least they’re aware that’s it’s happening. Doing my part for the cause :).

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Tom. Do let me know if you hear anything. It would be nice to have some regular support.

  15. Los olvidados prisioneros de Guantánamo | boris1cuba1moscu1 says...

    [...] El 31 de diciembre , instamos a la administración a consultarnos acerca de los 46 hombres oficialmente sometidos a detención indefinida, subrayando que “en estos momentos se les retiene indefinidamente sin acusación o juicio sobre la base de que son supuestamente peligrosos y, por tal razón, no puede dejárseles libres, incluso aunque no hay siquiera pruebas suficientes como para poder enjuiciarles”, y añadiendo: “Podemos confirmar que esto significa que las supuestas pruebas no son tales sino que consisten ante todo en declaraciones no fiables, hechas principalmente por otros prisioneros de la “guerra contra el terror”, no sólo en Guantánamo, sino también en los ‘sitios negros’ de la CIA”. [...]

  16. Los olvidados prisioneros de Guantánamo | Voces del 99% says...

    [...] El 31 de diciembre , instamos a la administración a consultarnos acerca de los 46 hombres oficialmente sometidos a detención indefinida, subrayando que “en estos momentos se les retiene indefinidamente sin acusación o juicio sobre la base de que son supuestamente peligrosos y, por tal razón, no puede dejárseles libres, incluso aunque no hay siquiera pruebas suficientes como para poder enjuiciarles”, y añadiendo: “Podemos confirmar que esto significa que las supuestas pruebas no son tales sino que consisten ante todo en declaraciones no fiables, hechas principalmente por otros prisioneros de la “guerra contra el terror”, no sólo en Guantánamo, sino también en los ‘sitios negros’ de la CIA”. [...]

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Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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