Please Call for the Closure of Guantánamo By Signing the White House Petition


It’s three years since President Obama promised to close Guantánamo.

Remind President Obama of his promise. Sign the petition on the White House’s “We the People” website urging him to honor his promise. 25,000 signatures are needed by February 6 to secure a response, so please sign up, and please spread the word.

What happened to President Obama’s bold promise?

Three years ago, on January 22, 2009, President Obama issued an executive order promising to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay within a year, but he did not move swiftly to implement his promise, and Congress then stepped in with onerous restrictions on the release of prisoners or their transfer to the US mainland for any reason, even to be tried or imprisoned.

Instead of being closed, Guantánamo still holds 171 men, even though 89 of these men were cleared for release more than two years ago by the interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force (PDF), which was established by the President after taking office.

Some of these cleared men, like the Uighurs (Muslims from China’s Xinjiang province), remain in Guantánamo because they cannot be safely repatriated, even though the Bush administration conceded they had been seized by mistake, and even though a District Court judge granted their habeas corpus petitions in October 2008.

Others — 28 in total — are Yemenis, whose release was approved by the Task Force but prevented by the President after a Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who had been recruited in Yemen, tried and failed to blow up a plane bound for Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. Although these men had nothing to do with Mr. Abdulmutallab, their release is prevented solely on the basis of their nationality. We believe that this is wrong, and that continuing to hold these men makes a mockery of claims that the United States believes in fairness and justice.

30 other Yemenis are held in what the Task Force described as “conditional detention,” a category of prisoner invented by the Task Force, and designed to prevent their release until, by some unknown mechanism, it is decided that the security situation in Yemen has improved sufficiently for them to be released.

We call on the President to release these 89 prisoners, and to bring to an end the unacceptable situation in which those cleared for release are indistinguishable from those recommended for trials or for ongoing detention, because of the unfair obstructions imposed to prevent them being freed.

Again, please sign the petition, and then tell others about it. Let’s make 2012 the year that we close Guantánamo.

Also, please note that the petition can be signed by anyone, not just US citizens. When registering from outside the US, just leave the “zip code” section blank. Good luck, and thanks for the support!

Note: This article is adapted from an article on the website of the newly established “Close Guantánamo” campaign. Please also see the mission statement, signed by significant retired military personnel, NGOs, lawyers and journalists, and sign up here to receive updates and action alerts.

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.

27 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Blue Blessing wrote:

    Hugs…Keep on Ur fight Andy. U R a good man. : )

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Blue. That’s very much appreciated.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    On Digg, johnnr2 wrote:

    We need to petition every member of Congress for this, as well!

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, all those members of Congress who would like nothing more than for new prisoners to be sent to Guantanamo, and for no one currently held there to ever be released. They are a disgrace.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Asif Rana wrote:

    I have shared this a number of times and will do so again, but signatures are few and far between. Assume only US citizens can sign?

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    No, anyone can sign. Some of those who have signed are from outside the US. Just leave the “zip code” box blank.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Toia Tutta Jung wrote:

    I think that the mainstream media has manipulated us into a state of indifference, and that´s why we see people saying they care, but actually, doing nothing to change things. It´s like we´re programmed to see some amount of bad news and then programmed to think that we´re doing what we should- and the whole package comes with some random material that makes us feel good- special- strong. I´m worried that when things go this way, more and more people lose their hope. That´s why I support your work, Andy. You´re actually doing something that makes a difference.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Toia. I’m trying to overcome that huge wall of indifference, and given hope by the fact that there has been an awakening of an awareness of the many, inter-connected facets of injustice – from Wall Street to Guantanamo to Tahrir Square – in the last year. This petition is a hard sell, that’s for sure, and certainly some people are put off because it’s on the White House website, but in other ways the “Close Guantanamo” campaign is stymied by being such a new movement. I hope that will change as the year progresses, and we begin to mount new campaigns and provide much-needed education about Guantanamo.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Asif Rana wrote:

    Signature 2945. Thanks Andy. Got another one on there too from a friend.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Toia Tutta Jung wrote:

    That´s right Andy. I have signed the petition, (so I have a direct line to the white House now 😉 ) and I too think that 2012 is bringing us lots of hope 🙂

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks again, Asif and Toia. Now on 2.952! Every conscious reader counts! And this is the year for consciousness to grow.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    On Digg, novenator wrote (in response to 4):

    Agreed. This is a natural extension of their dehumanizing tendencies IMHO, from undocumented migrants to LGBT folks to atheists to everyone else, the rise of fascism in America is a scary thing to behold.

    By the way, thanks for all the great work you’re doing.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    cosmicsurfer wrote:

    Speaking as one who has spent a good amount of time trying to get in front of a few members of this Congress, I whole-heartedly agree with your assessment. Even the “progressive” members refuse to take up the banner for justice and humanity.
    Excuses, put off and refusal to discuss are the usual response but we cannot give up.
    Town halls must be used, telephones, emails and just showing up to the office to demand forum. We need to take the time to demand the rights for those who have had them removed and their voice stolen.
    Obama has ONLY released 66 from Guantanamo since he took office.
    The most obvious prisoner who MUST BE RELEASED is Shaker Aamer – before it is in a body bag.
    But Guantanamo is only one place. We still have Bagram that is filled with people and the universe only knows of the other hells we have. If not ours, ones belonging to other countries that are allowing us to send people there for torture (unseemly for the US to get our hands dirty now)….
    I know, I am getting ahead of myself – Guantanamo first….

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, novenator. I appreciate the support. And cosmicsurfer, I’m with you, but yes, let’s start with Guantanamo, and one prisoner at a a time, as that is how our possibilities have been shrunk by those in power. And Shaker Aamer is indeed an obvious candidate for release.

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    We just hit 3,000 signatures. Thanks, everyone. Now let’s see how quickly we can get the next thousand. Please, tell your friends! I just cross-posted this on WarIsACrime and Op-Ed News, and on the Huffington Post, where I haven’t been for a while.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    3.071! Good night all …

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    On Op-Ed News, Ned Lud wrote:

    Is god odd or even?

    Even god doesn’t care anymore, Andy.

    Loyal party scientists (along with loyal party lawyers and industry officials and their vast minions) are working feverishly to expand the power and torturing and imprisoning and surveillance capabilities of the Empire of the Third (formerly beautiful) Rock from the Sun.

    Nonetheless, I will sign the petition.

    We can only hope for an odd god.

    your friend,

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Ned. I appreciate the support, even in the face of celestial indifference!

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    PCM wrote:

    Thanks for the reminder.

    The first — and second and third and fourth and fifth — time I tried to sign the petition, was so bogged down and dysfunctional that it “unrecognized” me as signed in to my site account each time I proceeded to the petition-signing button. (And it wasn’t a script-blocking or cookie or LSO or browser-specific problem; it was definitely a site problem.) But you know what they say: umpteenth time’s the charm. If other people had the same trouble I did, I suspect the recorded number of signers is a gross undercount of actual support.

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for trying, PCM. Unfortunately I’ve been hearing about many similar problems. Is that just coincidental on a site that allows people to complain to the President? Or not? Whatever, I think you’re right, and it’s leading to a gross undercount of actual support.

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    I’m in Brussels, where “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo” was screened this evening at the European Parliament. An excellent event. My report will follow soon! In the meantime, the petition hit 3,326 signatures! Keep them coming!

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    3,366 now! There’s some momentum building!

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    3,511 now!

  24. LUCIANO says...

    i treid to sign cant figure out were
    i too was DETAINED by the goverment,those detetion centers are apauling
    freezing in july we are striped of our clothes & give a filthy jumpsuit to wear
    guy were hanging themselves every other week!!!
    i guess only the strong survive!!
    i was a LPR for over 35 yrs!! my whole family are citizens & i still cant get back HOME

  25. LUCIANO says...

    feel free to e/mail me if u have any doubts or questions

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Luciano. Sorry to hear about your difficulties signing, but more particularly to hear abut how you have been treated.

  27. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks to everyone who has been signing the petition — or has managed to, despite problems with the White House website. We’re now up to 4,500 signatures.

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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 and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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