Guantánamo Has Been Open 5,845 Days on Jan. 11: Please Join the New Close Guantánamo Campaign – Take a Photo With a Poster And Send It To Us


Andy Worthington launching the new Close Guantanamo initiative for 2018, showing how long the prison has been open - with the first poster showing 5,845 days on January 11, 2018, the 16th anniversary of its opening. Throughout the year, the Gitmo Clock website will count exactly how many days, hours, minutes an seconds Guantanamo has been open, and posters can be printed from the page for people to take photos with and send to the Close Guantanamo campaign.

Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration, including my current visit to the US.


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.

Please print off the poster here for 5,845 days on Jan. 11, and send it to us. After Jan. 11, please print the Gitmo Clock, which counts exactly how many days, hours, minutes and seconds Guantánamo has been open. Send them to us to put up on the website and on social media.

January 11, 2018 is the 16th anniversary of the opening of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, when it will have been open for 5,845 days, and to mark this grim occasion — which ought to be a source of shame for all decent Americans and citizens of the world who respect the rule of law — the Close Guantánamo campaign, set up by journalist Andy Worthington and attorney Tom Wilner exactly six years ago, is launching a new initiative: inviting opponents of Guantánamo’s continued existence to take a photo of themselves holding a poster telling Donald Trump to close the prison, and marking how long it has been open.

Regular readers will, we are sure, know exactly why it is so important for Guantánamo to be closed, but if you’re new to the site — and we hope some of you are — the reason it needs to be closed is because the men held at the prison (41 now, but 779 in total over the last 16 years) were almost all the victims of a horrendous experiment in detention — held not as criminal suspects, to be charged swiftly and prosecuted in federal court, nor as prisoners of war protected by the Geneva Conventions, who can be held unmolested until the end of hostilities.

Instead, the Bush administration decided that the Guantánamo prisoners had no rights whatsoever. Guantánamo — the site of an existing US naval base, in Cuba —was chosen because it was presumed to be beyond the reach of the US courts. As such, hidden from outside scrutiny, they were open to being abused when, as it transpired, most of them had no useful information to impart. What made this situation even more shocking is that many of them had no useful information because they were insignificant. The truth only later emerged — and is still generally unknown — that there was no effective screening in Afghanistan, where all the prisoners were processed, before their arrival at Guantánamo, and, in addition, the majority of the prisoners were not “captured on the battlefield” by US forces, as the Bush administration alleged, but were handed over or sold by their Afghan and Pakistani allies, with the US paying bounties averaging $5,000 a head for prisoners who could be packaged up as being members of al-Qaeda or the Taliban. They were then tortured or otherwise abused in an effort to get them to provide useful intelligence, even though most of them had no such information.

The torture and abuse of prisoners was widespread until the prisoners won a Supreme Court victory in June 2004, and were granted habeas corpus rights, when lawyers were allowed to visit and begin representing them, but their habeas rights were then cynically taken away by Congress, and only restored again by the Supreme Court in June 2008. There then followed the only period in Guantánamo’s history when the law applied. Dozens of prisoners had their release ordered by judges, who reviewed their cases, and concluded that the government had failed to make a case that they were involved in any meaningful sense with al-Qaeda or the Taliban, before appeals curt judges cynically rewrote the rules, demanding a presumption of accuracy for the government’s often shockingly inadequate evidence, which had the effect of gutting habeas corpus of all meaning for the remaining prisoners.

In the meantime, President Obama, who promised to close the prison (within a year) when he took office in January 2009, set up a high-level review process to assess the prisoners’ cases, the Guantánamo Review Task Force, which concluded that 156 men should be freed, 36 should be tried and 48 should continue to be held indefinitely without charge or trial. He then set up a parole-type review process for the 48 “forever prisoners,” the Periodic Review Boards, which led to a further 38 prisoners being approved for release before he left office, but failed to fulfill his promise to close the facility in its entirety, leaving 41 men in the control of Donald Trump.

Trump, in contrast, has released no one, and shows no sign of wanting to do so, even though five of the remaining 41 prisoners were approved for release under President Obama, and even though there is no acceptable justification for continuing to hold the remaining “forever prisoners” — currently, 26 men — forever. And even the remaining prisoners, who are facing trials, are deprived of justice, as the military commission system is so broken that it is incapable of delivering justice. We must be thankful that Trump’s wild claim that he would send new prisoners to Guantánamo has not come true, but it remains as important as ever that the prison is closed for good.

As we begin our new initiative, the poster for January 11 — 5,845 days — is here, and we invite you to print it off, take a photo with it, and send it to us. We’ve set up a new page on our website, where we’ll post all the photos, and we’ll also share them on social media.

After January 11 (Day 5,845), we invite you to print off your own poster marking how many days the prison has been open via the Gitmo Clock website, which we’ve just revived. The clock counts, in real time, exactly how many days, hours, minute and seconds Guantánamo has been open, and when you open the page and press “print” you will get a unique snapshot of exactly how long it has been open for your photo. Feel free to take a many photos as you want and send them to us, with, if you wish, a message for Donald Trump, and if you wish, your memories of what you were doing when the prison opened on January 11, 2002.

We ran two incarnations of the Gitmo Clock under President Obama — the first, in 2013, counting how many days it was since his promise to resume releasing prisoners, after a long period when, obstructed by Congress, he had stopped releasing anyone, despite many dozens of men having long been approved for release. The Gitmo Clock’s second incarnation came as we counted down to the end of Obama’s presidency in 2016. We have also run two photo campaigns before — the Countdown to Close Guantánamo in 2016, also for Obama’s last year, when we counted down the days remaining of his presidency via posters, and, last year, the Donald Trump No! Please Close Guantánamo campaign.

This, however, is the first time we have counted how many days in total Guantánamo has been open, and we hope the terrible truth about exactly how long it has been open will inspire you to take part.

We’ll be running the campaign throughout this year, and into 2019, if the prison is still open, and we invite you to mark a few dates in your diary.

On March 7, Guantánamo will have been open for 5,900 days, and the poster for that is here.

On June 15, Guantánamo will have been open for 6,000 days, and the poster for that is here.

On September 23, Guantánamo will have been open for 6,100 days, and the poster for that is here.

And on January 1, 2019, Guantánamo will have been open for 6,200 days, and the poster for that is here.

For every other day, as mentioned above, visiting the Gitmo Clock and pressing “print” will capture a snapshot of the terrible truth about Guantánamo’s apparently endless existence.

We hope you’ll join us in this new initiative!

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 music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Donald Trump No! Please Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2017), 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.

One Response

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s a shout out for the new initiative I’ve just launched via, to mark the 16th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantanamo Bay tomorrow (Jan. 11). This year we’re encouraging people to send in photos of themselves with posters telling Donald Trump the shocking truth about how long Guantanamo – where men are held indefinitely without charge or trial – has been open, an intolerable situation made worse by Trump, who clearly has no interest in releasing anyone under any circumstances. That shocking truth? As the photos shows, on Jan. 11, Guantanamo will have been open for 5,845 days. Please print off the poster and send it to us, and after Jan. 11, visit the Gitmo Clock, which counts how many days, hours, minute and seconds the prison has been open, to print a poster and keep our initiative running all year. The photos will go up on the website, and on social media. I look forward to hearing from you!

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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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