President Obama: Keep Your Promise to Close Guantanamo

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Nearly four years ago, on his second day in office, President Obama ordered the Guantanamo prison closed within one year.  Today it remains open, with 166 detainees, and human rights violations in the name of “global war” have become the “new normal” there, at Bagram in Afghanistan and elsewhere, including indefinite detention, unfair trials, unlawful killings with drones and impunity for torture.

President Obama must make good on his promise to close the prison, and he must end–and ensure accountability for–human rights violations in the name of “global war.” Yes, there are obstacles to closure and reform–however, if President Obama were to change course and honor the U.S. government’s international human rights obligations, the path forward is clear, because human rights provide a framework that protect and ensure justice for all of us.

Here are 10 concrete steps–by no means exhaustive–President Obama can take now and in the near future to keep his promise and help make his rhetoric on human rights a reality:

1) Immediately recommit publicly to closing Guantanamo, recognize that international law applies to all U.S. counterterrorism operations, and recognize that the right way to close Guantanamo is to ensure that detainees are either charged and fairly prosecuted in federal court, or released to countries that will respect their human rights.

2) Immediately release Guantanamo detainee Shaker Aamer to the United Kingdom unless he is to be charged with a crime and prosecuted fairly in federal court. He’s on the Obama administration’s list of 55 detainees publicly cleared for transfer out of the prison; the U.K. government has repeatedly called for Shaker Aamer to be released to his wife and children in London; and the U.K. appears to meet the Congressional certification requirements in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act to transfer him there (see Section 1028 of the NDAA).

3) Take urgent steps to work with suitable countries to release the other detainees on the Administration’s list of 55 Guantanamo detainees who are publicly cleared for transfer out of the prison, including the three remaining Uighurs, unless they are to be charged and fairly prosecuted in federal court.

4) Work with Congress to ensure that the transfer restrictions in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act are not renewed next year. The restrictions purport to bar transfers to the U.S. for any reason, whether for trial or resettlement, and put impediments on transfers to other countries.

5) Abandon the unfair Guantanamo military commissions. Any Guantanamo detainees the government intends to prosecute should be tried fairly in U.S. federal court, without recourse to the death penalty.

6) End indefinite detention. Ensure that all detainees are either charged and fairly tried in U.S. federal court, or are released to countries that will respect their human rights.

7) End unlawful killings with drones. The choice should not be between unlawful killing and unlawful detention.

8) Work with Congress next year to repeal the detention provisions in the 2012 NDAA and repeal the 2009 Military Commissions Act.

9) Withdraw the Authorization for Use of Military Force that has been used to justify human rights violations such as indefinite detention and unlawful drone killings in the name of “global war.”

10) Ensure accountability for torture, unlawful killings and other human rights      violations as required by law, including full investigation, prosecutions where warranted, and ensure remedy and redress for victims.

You may be thinking that Guantanamo is the least of the United States’ problems. However, the U.S. government’s claim that it can deny human rights at will with impunity in the name of “global war” has been a human rights tragedy for the United States and the world.

And for people like Shaker Aamer and others who have never been charged with any crime but remain unlawfully detained, it is an urgent matter of life or death.

Take action: e-mail President Obama about Shaker Aamer and urge him to close Guantanamo.

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15 thoughts on “President Obama: Keep Your Promise to Close Guantanamo

  1. I have said it today under ACLU statement and will repeat here.

    I hope I am wrong, but I fear that catastrophe is inevitable…

    Drones… Every night they rip hearts and lives apart and humanity would be far better off without this idiotic technology.

    Guantánamo… is truly insane, truly terrifying, truly unthinkable… And it is only a peak of the iceberg as the web of secret prisons that violate human rights and prevent any lawyer or journalists to even knock on the door is disturbingly wide…

    I wonder how many more times will I have to go out on the streets and appeal for justice? How many more times will I have to make comments under articles and appeal for the right thing? Will I ever be able to get back to my life and get on with it without worrying about human rights violations?

    I am loosing faith in humanity and I am loosing hope… But I will keep saying this again and again and again…

    When we discover Guantanamo prisoners, we discover mostly innocent people that include children and wounded, bought by the US for $5000 (isn't it involvement in trading of human beings?), but even those allegedly 'the worst ones', when we consider the barbaric treatment they have been through, we should ask ourselves WHAT have we become? How much lower can we fall?

    Guantanamo is not a bad dream, it is happening now and it does concern everyone…

    Guantanamo prisoners should not be considered as terrorists but as victims of terror. They should be given immediate amnesty, meaningful apology and support. World is mad by blindly ignoring the truth that US government is a brutal war criminal.

    Prosecute war criminals! Free political prisoners!

  2. For writting such a brave article the least thing i can do for is to Pray to Lord for you to give you more strenght. My elders told me the brave is not who wrestles with 40 and wins but the one who not only speaks truth & justice and then stand firm.

  3. Jimmie Apsey, voted for you, as he lays in a hospital since 2009, due to a stroke, he wants you to close Guantanamo. He was bravely against the Viet Nam war. He is relieved to see us getting out of Iraq and Afganistan

  4. "The provisions on indefinite detention are inconsistant with the liberties and freedoms that are at the core of the system out Founders established."

  5. The fact that Guantanamo is still running and housing prisoners is disturbing enough, but to realize how much power we have in our own hands to shut this thing down, and have not yet done so, is even more disturbing. I know of nothing good that has come from this Guantanamo prison. It is essentially a prison where human rights violations are simply acceptable. If Obama can indeed, do all that you say in your list of things to do right now, I can not understand why this is not a top priority. The U.S. prides itself on human rights and should do more in this situation to close these doors for good.

  6. President Obama signed an EO on his 2nd day in office to close GITMO. Since then, Congress has voted to KEEP IT OPEN four times, with only 6 Dems voting to close it.

    Why aren't you addressing the Congressional GOP who want to make it a perma-base, and everything they can to make this twice-elected in landslides POTUS, look bad?

  7. Obama and bipartisan Congress surgically removed our Bill of Rights from the Constitution. How can they get away with this by a lower court ruling, but they act like their hands are tied when it comes down to closing a detention center(Guantanamo)?

    Only a year ago they denied that the NDAA 2012 would remove our Bill of Rights. Now they openly admit it, with arrogance. There are a lot of psychopathic criminals in Congress, and this guy is one of them

    I don't where these people came from but they certainly at the very least, don't care about their country. When these people(Congress) starst calling a person a terrorist because they interfere with corporate profit, it just goes to show you how insane they are.

  8. Prisoners of war have rights. Geneva convention says so, which the U.S. signed and agreed to. That's why Japanese officers were tried for war crimes, stuff like starving or torturing Americans.

  9. Hi Zeke Johnson I really appreciated you that you raise this issue This Jail should be closed Four years ago President Obama ordered the Guantanamo prison closed within one year. But this jail is still opened it is the voilation of the human rights in the name of global war.

  10. This is my first look in your post and I am very happy to know your concept about the president Obama. But one thing is that still this jail is open which is really very harmful for us. but your cleaning writing concept is need to be keep our mind.

  11. It's unbelievable that Guantanamo is still running. It should have been closed years ago and even now I don't understand why things are taking so long when so many people are tortured and being kept locked up for no reason and without any form of trial.