End 19 Years Of Injustice

Photos and Videos of the "Close Guantánamo" Events in Washington D.C.

Protestors against the continued existence of Guantánamo outside the Supreme Court on January 11, 2013

A photo by Andy Worthington of protestors outside the Supreme Court on January 11, 2013, the 11th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo.

By Andy Worthington, January 19, 2013

Last week was a busy week for the "Close Guantánamo" campaign, as Tom Wilner and I, the project's steering committee, were in Washington D.C. for protests against the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, on the 11th anniversary of the opening of the prison. As I wrote, when publishing two sets of photos of the protests, we were there "to call on President Obama to fulfil the promise he made to close the prison when he took office in January 2009, or be remembered as a failure, who succumbed to political expediency and settled for a path of cowardice rather than confronting his political opponents, both in the Republican Party and in his own party, and doing what needed to be done."

Andy Worthington outside the White House calling for the closure of Guantánamo on January 11, 2013 (Photo: Palina Prasasouk).

Andy Worthington of "Close Guantánamo" calls for the closure of Guantánamo in a speech outside the White House on January 11, 2013. Photo by Palina Prasasouk of Witness Against Torture.

The 166 prisoners still held in Guantánamo have been failed by all three branches of the U.S. government, and of pressing concern for campaigners, as the 12th year of operations begins at Guantánamo, is the fate of the 86 men who were cleared for release by the interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force that President Obama established after taking office. The Task Force spent a year reviewing the prisoners’ cases before reaching its sober and considered conclusions, and, in addition, some of these men were actually cleared by military review boards under the Bush administration, some as long ago as 2004.

However, they remain held either because they are Yemenis, regarded as an unprecedented terrorist threat -- despite being cleared -- since Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a failed underwear bomber, was apprehended on a U.S.-bound plane three years ago and it was discovered that he had been recruited in Yemen, or because they are from countries where they face the risk of torture if repatriated and no countries have been found that are prepared to rehouse them, or simply because Congress has passed legislation designed to prevent any prisoner being released to any country that lawmakers regard as a threat.

As I explained in my speech outside the White House on the anniversary last week, which is posted below (and was filmed by the Baltimore-based activist Bill Hughes), continuing to hold men who were cleared for release makes the U.S. worse than a dictatorship that arbitrarily throws people in a dungeon and then throws away the key. Indefinite detention -- the heart of the unacceptable regime at Guantánamo -- is a disgrace, but establishing a review process and then ignoring it is a particularly cruel form of added injustice.

Andy Worthington tells President Obama to close Guantánamo, January 11, 2013.

Also of interest to supporters of "Close Guantánamo," I hope, is the film below, of the panel discussion at the New America Foundation on the morning of January 11, featuring myself and my fellow steering committee member Tom Wilner, who represented the Guantánamo prisoners in their successful Supreme Court cases in 2004 and 2008, and Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantánamo, and a signatory to our mission statement. The event, "America's indefinitely detained," which was moderated by Peter Bergen, the director of the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation, was broadcast by C-SPAN, and is also available below via YouTube:

"America's indefinitely detained" at the New America Foundation, January 11, 2013.

As we make our plans for the coming year, we'd like to thank you for your support throughout 2012, and to encourage you to ask your friends and family members to 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.