January 11, 2011 09:00 AM
President Obama, Why Have You Forsaken Your Promise to Close Guantanamo?
Bianca Jagger asks why President Obama has forsaken his promise to restore ‘America’s moral stature in the world,’ on the ninth anniversary of the arrival at Guantánamo of the first prisoners and nearly two years after he pledged to close the prison camp within a year.
When President Obama was elected, he electrified people throughout the world, particularly the human rights community, by using his second day in office to issue executive orders to close the Guantánamo detention center and end torture and secret detention.
The order authorized: “The detention facilities at Guantánamo for individuals covered by this order shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than one year from the date of this order”.
During his campaign, in an interview on 60 Minutes in November 2008, he declared: “I have said repeatedly that I intend to close Guantánamo and I will follow through on that …This is part and parcel of an effort to regain America’s moral stature in the world.” After the wilderness years of the Bush presidency, this seemed like the Promised Land. Except, of course, it wasn’t.
What has followed has been an infinitely depressing departure from this promise and what it represented — that the USA would try to repair some of the damage of George Bush’s assault on the international rule of law, and human rights.
First there was the announcement in April 2009 that there were to be no prosecutions for those responsible for torture and secret detention despite declassified memoranda showing there had been a policy allowing the mistreatment of prisoners in CIA and US military custody, a policy approved at the highest governmental legal levels.
Then we had Obama’s troubling National Archive speech on 21 May 2009.
Rights Groups Mark Beginning of a Decade of Wrongful Detentions at Guantánamo and Demand Obama Close Island Prison with Justice: here.
Andy Worthington, Truthout: “Political prisoners? Surely, that can’t be right, can it? Surely, it’s only dictatorships in far-flung corners of the world who hold political prisoners, and not the United States of America? Sadly, no. As the ‘War on Terror’ prison established by President Bush begins its tenth year of operations, and as it begins to be forgotten that President Obama swept into office issuing an executive order promising to close the prison within a year, but failed spectacularly to do so, the bleak truth is that, for a majority of the 173 men held at Guantanamo, their chances of being released, or of receiving anything resembling justice, have receded to such an extent in the last two years that most face indefinite detention without charge or trial and may still be in Guantanamo a year from now, two years from now, or even five, ten or twenty years from now”: here.
Carol Rosenberg, McClatchy Newspapers: “Two years after the newly minted Obama administration moved to undo what had become one of the most controversial legacies of the George W. Bush presidency by ordering the closure of the prison camps at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a trove of State Department documents made public by the website WikiLeaks is providing new information about why that effort failed. Key among the factors, the cables suggest: Congress’ refusal to allow any of the captives to be brought to the United States”: here.
Around 200 rights activists rallied in front of the White House and blockaded the entrances to the US Department of Justice on Tuesday – the ninth anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp: here.
Andy Worthington, War Is A Crime: “For several years now, one organization in the US government has persistently undermined attempts to have a grown-up debate about the perceived dangerousness of prisoners at Guantanamo, and the need to bear security concerns in mind whilst also trying to empty the prison and to bring to an end this particularly malign icon of the Bush administration’s ill-conceived response to the 9/11 attacks. That organization is the Pentagon, and its habit of issuing announcements regarding the alleged recidivism of prisoners released from Guantanamo – without documentation to back up its claims – has also exposed a startling lack of journalistic integrity in the mainstream media”: here.
Australia: Labor government makes out-of-court settlement with former Guantánamo prisoner over torture allegations: here.
- Prophecy & Utopia – Re: ‘Obama had no balls to close Gitmo’ (disclose.tv)
- Guantanamo Secret Censor Frustrates Judge In 9/11 Case (huffingtonpost.com)
- Obama Closes Office Working to Shut Down Gitmo (news.antiwar.com)
- U.S. shutters Guantanamo prisoners’ resettlement office (thehindu.com)
- Office charged with shutting Guantanamo Bay closes (telegraph.co.uk)
- Obama’s envoy for closing Gitmo prison reassigned (modbee.com)
- American Voices: Obama Gives Up On Closing Guantánamo? (theonion.com)