The Path to Closing Guantánamo

Campaigners with the group Witness Against Torture occupy the national Museum of American History on january 11, 2014, the 12th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo (Photo: Andy Worthington).I wrote the following article for the “Close Guantánamo” website, which I established in January 2012 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.

On Saturday, six Yemenis were freed from Guantánamo, and resettled in Oman, bringing the prison’s population down to 116 men, the lowest total it has been since the first few months of the prison’s operation back in 2002. I wrote about the release of the men here, and amended the details of our prisoner list here, and, in response to the releases, I thought it would also be useful to follow up by looking at where we stand with President Obama’s long-promised mission to close the prison.

President Obama made his promise to close Guantánamo on his second day in office, pledging to close it within a year. Since failing to keep the promise, he has sporadically stated again his desire to see the prison closed — most notably two years ago, when a prison-wide hunger strike prompted him to promise to resume releasing prisoners, after a period of nearly three years in which releases had almost ground to a halt, because of opposition in Congress and the president ‘s refusal to expend political capital overcoming those obstacles.

In April, as I wrote about here, the Washington Post reported, as I paraphrased it,  that all the men approved for release in Guantánamo — at the time 57 out of the 122 men still held — would be “freed by the end of the year, and, if Congress proves obstructive, the Obama administration might close the facility before the end of Obama’s presidency by unilaterally moving the remaining prisoners to the US mainland.” I added, however, that, realistically, “it might be wisest to view these suggestions as the administration stating its best-case scenario.” Read the rest of this entry »

White House Threatens to Veto War Provisions and Restrictions on Closing Guantánamo in Defense Bill

Two weeks ago, when the “peace dividend” that should follow the death of Osama bin Laden was hijacked by cynical lawmakers intent on using bin Laden’s death to expand the “War on Terror” by revising its founding document, the Authorization for Use of Military Force, passed by Congress the week after 9/11, and also seeking to endorse torture and to defend Guantánamo, I addressed these baleful developments in a hard-hitting article, entitled, No End to the “War on Terror,” No End to Guantánamo.

Earlier today I also cross-posted a memorandum sent to the House Armed Services Committee by the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Human Rights First and 20 other organisations, urging the Committee not to support the reckless and unjustifiable expansion of Presidential war powers, as contained in a section of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

That article also included a link to an ACLU campaign page where US citizens can write to their elected representatives asking them to oppose these vile plans by warmongers drunk on their addiction to permanent war. I hope that anyone concerned will do so, as it is extremely important, but I’d also like to remind readers of other sections inserted into the NDAA, which deal with Guantánamo, as I also mentioned in No End to the “War on Terror,” No End to Guantánamo. Read the rest of this entry »

Rights Groups Tell Congress: Vote No to Dangerous New “War on Terror” Provisions

Note: You can write to your elected representative asking them to “Say No to Worldwide War” via this ACLU page here.

Following the death of Osama bin Laden, as I explained in my article, No End to the “War on Terror,” No End to Guantánamo:

[T]here is a perfect opportunity for the Obama administration to bring to an end the decade-long “War on Terror” by withdrawing from Afghanistan and closing the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The justification for both the invasion of Afghanistan (in October 2001) and the detention of prisoners in Guantánamo (which opened in January 2002) is the Authorization for Use of Military Force, passed by Congress on September 14, 2001, just three days after the 9/11 attacks. […]

With bin Laden’s death, the route should now be open for the President to assert that he has used “all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001” [as mandated by the AUMF] and to get out of the unwinnable morass that is the ongoing occupation of Afghanistan. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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