Please visit, like, share and tweet the Gitmo Clock, marking 500 days since President Obama's promise to resume releasing prisoners from Guantánamo.
By Andy Worthington, October 5, 2014
On May 23, 2013, President Obama promised, in a major speech on national security issues, to resume releasing prisoners from Guantánamo, after a period of nearly three years in which just five prisoners were released.
The slow-down in prisoner releases came about because of Congressional obstruction to the release of prisoners for largely cynical reasons (in passages in the annual National Defense Authorization Act,), and because President Obama was unwilling to spend political capital overcoming those obstructions, even though a waiver in the legislation allowed him to do so.
The slow-down was unacceptable because over half of the remaining prisoners had been approved for release by the high-level, inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force that President Obama established shortly after taking office in January 2009 -- and yet they were held, year after year, making a mockery of America's claims that it believes in justice.
This was such an intolerable situation that a majority of the remaining prisoners embarked on a prison-wide hunger strike last year. This attracted widespread domestic and international criticism of the situation at Guantánamo, prompting President Obama to make the speech last May in which he promised to resume releasing prisoners.
We launched the Gitmo Clock last summer, to mark how many days it is since President Obama's promise, and how many prisoners have been released, and while we're glad to note that 17 men have been freed since the speech, we are profoundly disappointed that 79 of the remaining 149 prisoners have been approved for release -- 75 by the Guantánamo Review Task Force, and four since January this year by a new review process, the Periodic Review Boards -- but are still held.
In addition, it is worth noting that 58 of these men are Yemenis, and that their release continues to be justified, throughout the U.S. political establishment, because of fears about the security situation in Yemen, fears which impose on the men still held the unjustifiable status of men who are held solely because of their nationality.
Today it is 500 days since President Obama's promise, and to mark the occasion we are asking you to please visit the Gitmo Clock, to like it, share it and tweet it, and to contact the White House and the Pentagon to ask for renewed action in releasing prisoners from Guantánamo.
Call the White House and ask President Obama to release all the prisoners who have had their release approved by the Guantánamo Review Task Force or by Periodic Review Boards. Call 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414 or submit a comment online.
Call the Department of Defense and ask Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to issue certifications, as required by Congress, for the prisoners cleared for release: 703-571-3343.