President Obama Has 100 Days Left to Close Guantánamo: Send Us Your Photos

7.10.16

This is Ibrahim, supporting the Countdown to Close Guantanamo at a recent event in Tooting, south east London (Photo: Andy Worthington).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.

Next Tuesday, October 11, President Obama will have just 100 days left to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, as he promised to do when he first took office in January 2009. Today, as shown on the Gitmo Clock, which we launched earlier this year, he has 105 days left.

To encourage him to fulfill his promise, we at “Close Guantánamo” have spent all year running the Countdown to Close Guantánamo, which our co-founder Andy Worthington launched in January on Democracy Now! with the music legend Roger Waters.

We began with a poster that read, “President Obama, you have one year left to close Guantánamo,” and then repeated it at 50-day intervals — 350 days on February 4, 300 days on March 25, 250 days on May 14, 200 days on July 3, 150 days on Aug. 22. See the photos here and here, here too and also here.

We are delighted that over 450 photos have been submitted to the Countdown to Close Guantánamo to date, and we hope you will join us next Tuesday to remind President Obama of his unfulfilled promise. Print off the poster here, take a photo with it, and send it to us. We’ll post them here, and on our social media accounts (Facebook and Twitter).

As it stands now, it looks as if President Obama will not succeed in fulfilling his promise to Guantánamo. Congress remains opposed, and laws are still in place to prevent him from bringing any Guantánamo prisoner to the US mainland for any reason. He could issue an executive order, bypassing Congress, but that would bring him into conflict with officials in whatever state or states he chose to bring the prisoners to. As Commander in Chief, it ought to be viable for him to move the men to a military facility, but as we have seen repeatedly in analyses of the problems with closing Guantánamo, there are officials within the Pentagon who do not want to see Guantánamo closed.

If Hillary Clinton wins the Presidential Election in November, and if the Democrats have a majority in both the Senate and the House, it’s possible that President Obama could do something in the small window of opportunity he would have in the new year, before Clinton’s inauguration, but we think it seems more likely now that the task of finally closing Guantánamo will fall to his successor.

We are, however, relieved that President Obama has been doing so much in the last year to work towards Guantánamo’s closure. 55 men have been released in the last year, and throughout this year the pace at which Periodic Review Boards have been taking place has noticeably increased. The PRBs are a parole-like process to assess whether men previously regarded as “too dangerous to release” or as candidates for prosecution can be freed, and out of 64 men’s cases in total, 43 reviews have taken place this year. Overall, the PRBs have led to recommendations that 33 men should be freed (and 20 have been released ), while 23 others have had there ongoing imprisonment upheld, and eight decisions have yet to be taken. Just 61 men are still held, and 20 of those men have been approved for release, and should be released before President Obama leave office.

We remain concerned that the military commission trial system, for the ten men facing trials, is an irredeemably broken system, and we also remain concerned that the men whose ongoing imprisonment has been upheld by the PRBs are still suffering a second-rate form of justice, not held as prisoners of war according to the Geneva Conventions if they were combatants, and not being put on trial if they are regarded as having been involved in any way with terrorism, which is a crime.

We hope that eventually, when Guantánamo is closed, these men will be able to make fresh legal challenges regarding the inadequate basis for their ongoing imprisonment (the Authorization for Use of Military Force, which Congress passed immediately after the 9/11 attacks).

For now, however, we believe that the least we can do is to keep making noise about the need to close Guantánamo before President Obama leaves office, and we hope that you will join us in the latest phase of the Countdown to Close Guantánamo.

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’ and EP ‘Fighting Injustice’ are available here to download or on CD via Bandcamp). 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.

3 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    My latest article, cross-posted from http://www.closeguantanamo.org, asking you to support the latest stage of the Countdown to Close Guantanamo that I launched in January with Roger Waters. On Tuesday, Oct. 11, President Obama will have just 100 days left to close Guantanamo, as he promised when he first took office nearly eight years ago. To join us (like Ibrahim here, photographed at a recent event in London), print off a poster, take a photo with it and send it to us, with a message to the president if you want – info@closeguantanamo.org http://www.closeguantanamo.org/dyn/1461020246314/CloseGuantanamoCountdown100Days.pdf

  2. Curt Wechsler says...

    It doesn’t appear likely that Guantanamo will be closed within this timeframe. What to do as we watch the clock run out? I know Andy won’t give up, but seriously, what next?

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Curt,
    Great to hear from you. I hope to get to see you in 2017, on a book tour!
    So yes, it’s looking unlikely that Obama will succeed in fulfilling his promise but he will at least have taken us to the brink of it happening. We need to be planning for two things: (a) pushing like crazy for him to close the prison in early January if Hillary wins and the Democrats also have a majority in the Senate and the House, and (b) making a big noise at the time the inauguration if (a) isn’t possible.

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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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