In the Countdown to Close Guantánamo, Photos Remind President Obama He Has Just 300 Days Left

26.3.16

Steve Lane, from Bethesda, Maryland, supports the Countdown to Close Guantanamo.

I wrote the following article for the “Close Guantánamo” website, which I established in January 2012, on the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, with the 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.

As an additional point of interest, this is my 2600th post since I began writing articles about Guantánamo on a full-time basis in May 2007. If you wish to make a donation to support my work, most of which is reader-funded, then please feel free to do so — I am still hoping to raise $1100 of my $3500 target for the next three months. Click on the ‘Donate’ button below to make a donation via PayPal.

Yesterday, March 25, marked 300 days until the end of Barack Obama’s Presidency, and, to mark the occasion, celebrities and concerned citizens across the US and around the world have been taking photos of themselves with posters, as part of the Countdown to Close Guantánamo campaign, reminding President Obama that he has just 300 days left to close the prison, as he promised to do on his second day in office back in January 2009. The poster is here, and you can send it to us here.

The actors David Morrissey and Juliet Stevenson, and the lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, the founder of Reprieve, which represents men still held at Guantánamo, are supporting the campaign, along with around 80 other people from the US and elsewhere, who, to date, have sent in photos of themselves with posters reminding the president that he has just 300 days left, to add to the 180 photos sent in when the campaign was launched in January, and marking 350 days last month. All the photos are available on the website here and here, and some are also on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

The Countdown to Close Guantánamo is an initiative of the Close Guantánamo campaign, which I founded in January 2012 (as a journalist, activist and Guantánamo expert) with the attorney Tom Wilner, who represented the Guantánamo prisoners in their habeas corpus cases before the Supreme Court in 2004 and 2008. I launched the Countdown to Close Guantánamo in January this year with music legend Roger Waters (ex-Pink Floyd) on Democracy Now!

Since January, when President Obama released 21 men, there has, unfortunately, been little action on Guantánamo. 91 men are still held, even though 37 of these men have been approved for release (or “approved for transfer” in Guantánamo-speak) — 24 since 2010, through the deliberations of the high-level, inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force that President Obama established shortly after taking office in 2009, and 13 through the deliberations of Periodic Review Boards, another high-level review process established in 2013 to review the cases of prisoners not already approved for release and not facing trials (just ten men are in this latter category).

Last month, President Obama delivered a plan for Guantánamo’s closure to Congress, promising to release the men approved for release and to continue with the Periodic Review Boards, and hoping to work with Congress to get the prison closed once and for all. Officials spoke about the prisoners approved for release being freed by summer, and the first round of PRBs being completed by the fall, and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo’s regular reminders of how many days he has left are intended to maintain pressure and awareness on the need for Guantánamo to be closed before President Obama leaves office.

The next date is May 14, marking 250 days to go, and 200 days falls on July 3, the day before Independence Day.

Speaking of the Countdown to Close Guantánamo reaching the 300-day mark, Tom Wilner said:

“Closing Guantánamo was one of the principal commitments President Obama made upon assuming office. He should not depart office leaving that lawless prison behind.”

Andy Worthington said:

“It is never good news when President Obama goes quiet on Guantánamo. Delivering a plan to Congress is not enough. The President needs to free those men already approved for release, some of whom have been waiting for their freedom for over six years since they were first told the US no longer wanted to hold them. He also needs make sure the Periodic Review Boards continue. To date they have approved for release 20 out of 24 men who, for too many years, were mistakenly described as ‘too dangerous to release.’ President Obama needs to know that the world is watching, and that he must close the prison as he promised before leaving office. Guantánamo is a legal, moral and ethical abomination, and every days it remains open is an affront to the notions of justice and respect for the rule of law that the US claims to hold dear.”

What else you can do now

To remind President Obama of his promise to close Guantánamo before he leaves office, call the White House on 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414 or submit a comment online.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album, ‘Love and War,’ is available for download or on CD via Bandcamp — also see here). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — 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. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

2 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook I wrote:

    My latest article, cross-posted from http://www.closeguantanamo.org, promotes the most recent stage in the Countdown to Close Guantanamo that I launched in January with Roger Waters: celebrities and concerned citizens worldwide telling President Obama – in photos, holding posters – that he has just 300 days left to close ‪Guantanamo‬ before he leaves office. Please join us!

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Yesterday I posted 85 new photos on the http://www.closeguantanamo.org website – of celebrities and concerned citizens from across the US and around the world with posters reminding President Obama that he has just 300 days left to close Guantanamo. We’re delighted to have had such a great response! See: http://www.closeguantanamo.org/Public-photos
    http://www.closeguantanamo.org/Celebrity-photos
    Keep them coming! Send to info@closeguantanamo.org: http://www.closeguantanamo.org/dyn/1455707901265/CloseGuantanamoCountdown300Days.pdf
    And here’s the poster for 250 days, for May 14: http://www.closeguantanamo.org/dyn/1458847751530/CloseGuantanamoCountdown250Days.pdf

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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