CORRECTION: Please note that the panel discussion at the New America Foundation in Washington D.C. On January 11 will now take place at 10am, and not at 3pm, as listed below.
By Andy Worthington
As the 11th anniversary of the opening of the "war on terror" prison at Guantánamo Bay approaches, we at "Close Guantánamo" are making our preparations for being in Washington D.C. to call on President Obama to fulfill the promise he made four years ago, when he took office, to close the prison for good.
At 12 noon on Friday January 11, 2013, the 11th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, the attorney Tom Wilner and the journalist Andy Worthington, who make up the steering committee of "Close Guantánamo," will be joining members of 24 other groups outside the Supreme Court to call for the closure of Guantánamo. See Amnesty International's page here, and the flyer here.
The 25 groups involved are: Amnesty International USA, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Catholic Worker, Center for Constitutional Rights, Close Guantánamo, Code Pink, Council on American Islamic Relations, International Justice Network, Liberty Coalition, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, No More Guantánamos, North Carolina Stop Torture Now, Pax Christi USA, Physicians for Human Rights, Rabbis for Human Rights North America, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Tackling Torture at the Top, Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition, Veterans for Peace, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, War Resisters League, Washington Region Religious Campaign Against Torture, Witness Against Torture, Women Against Military Madness, and World Can’t Wait.
After meeting at noon, those calling for the closure of Guantánamo will march to the White House via the Capitol. The whole event will last until 1.30pm, and there will be speakers at the three venues.
Afterwards, Tom Wilner and Andy Worthington will head to the New America Foundation, at 1899 L Street, N.W., Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20036, for a panel discussion, beginning at 3pm, which will also feature Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor of the military commissions, who resigned in 2007, in protest at plans to use information derived through the use of torture, and Ramzi Kassem, an attorney for prisoners at Guantánamo including Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, whose story has featured regularly on the "Close Guantánamo" website in the last year. Ramzi helped to make notes from his meetings with Shaker available to Andy, at Shaker's request, which were featured in the articles, "EXCLUSIVE: 'I Affirm Our Right to Life': Shaker Aamer, the Last British Resident in Guantánamo, Explains His Peaceful Protest and Hunger Strike," and "EXCLUSIVE: A Demand for 'Freedom and Justice' from Shaker Aamer in Guantánamo."
We hope you can join us for these events. 2013 is the year that public pressure needs to be exerted on President Obama to release the 86 prisoners, out of the 166 men still held, who have been cleared for release since 2009 (and in some cases since George W. Bush was President), and, of the remaining 80, to try those proposed for trials by President Obama's interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force, which published its report three years ago, and, preferably, to consult with us at "Close Guantánamo" regarding the others, who are currently held indefinitely without charge or trial, on the basis that they are allegedly too dangerous to release, even though insufficient evidence exists to put them on trial. We can confirm that what this means is that the so-called evidence is no such thing, and instead consists primarily of unreliable statements, mainly made by other prisoners in the "war on terror," not only at Guantánamo, but also in the CIA's "black sites."
We are ready to meet with government officials to discuss the fundamentally unreliable basis of the so-called evidence against the majority of the prisoners at Guantánamo, and are making plans to publicize our findings as the year progresses.
But first, we hope to see as many of you as possible outside the Supreme Court, the Capitol and the White House on January 11 to tell the President that Guantánamo must be closed, and that the history books will regard him as a poor President if he failed to close Guantánamo, as he promised, because it was politically inconvenient.
The evils enshrined at Guantánamo must be brought to an end because they continue to poison America's standing in the world. Shockingly, these involve hiding evidence of torture and abuse, sanctioned at the highest levels of the U.S. government, through political maneuvering designed to keep the prison open forever, and to ensure that indefinite detention without charge or trial will continue, even though it is one of the hallmarks, not of civilized countries, but of brutal dictatorships with no respect for the law.