We the People Call On Congress To Stop Obstructing The Closure Of GITMO

Guantanamo Bay continues to be a blight on our national conscience.  Its proponents make all sorts of arguments to defend what is ultimately indefensible.  Chief among them: We have to keep “the worst of the worst” at Guantanamo Bay in the name of national security.  Of course, most of Gitmos detainees haven’t been charged, nor have they been tried.

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Without trials, let alone public ones, it’s sort of difficult to know whether we are holding the worst of the worst or with we’re holding innocents.

The counter to that point is: We know they are the worst of the worst because they were detained and are held as “enemy combatants” under the President’s authority.

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This logic reminds me of the reasoning by religious zealots.  They know a given thing is true because its in the bible.  They believe in the bible, so therefore everything in it is true.

Even if the logic wasn’t flawed, the assumption that only the guilty are held at Guantanamo Bay simply isn’t true.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who was Chief of Staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell, has charged in a sworn affidavit that top officials of the Bush administration — including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, and President Bush himself — knowingly left innocent detainees to languish in prison to avoid political fallout. “Their view was that innocent people languishing in Guantánamo for years was justified by the broader war on terror and the capture of the small number of terrorists who were responsible for the September 11 attacks, or other acts of terrorism,” Colonel Wilkerson stated.

Finally, let’s consider some numbers. The Obama administration has cleared more than half of Guantanamo detainees for transfer.  This, when combined with Colonel Wilkinson’s assertion that the Bush administration knew it was holding innocent people at Guantanamo Bay is very disturbing.

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Moreover, of the remaining people who should be detained, there is no need for the military tribunal.  Our judicial system has convicted terrorists, without resorting to evidence tainted by torture.  When the Department of Justice attempted to prosecute KSM in New York, it was met with the same resistance from congress that occurred previously. As reported in The Reid Report last April.

In addition to McCain (the Republican) and Schumer (the Democrat), other opponents of trying KSM in New York included Michael Bloomberg (who flip-flopped on his way to opposition), Democratic Senator Kirstin Gillibrand and her colleague, Democratic House member from New York Nydia Velasquez, Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and a majority in Congress, which summarily blocked every attempt by Holder to either establish civilian tribunals for the suspects, or to move even a single detainee out of Guantanamo — even to an empty prison complex in Illinois.

Those who argue that alleged terrorist don’t deserve the legal rights we have under our constitution, misunderstand the concept of rights. We must not accept the notion that rights only apply to those who deserve them because that converts rights to privileges.  That sort of culture put all of our rights at peril.  It also assumes that there is someone who can and should be the arbitrator of determining who deserves rights.

Upholding the constitution has not compromised our ability to convict people without untainted evidence, a fair and open judicial process; and a right to a defense.

Our prisons have kept people convicted of terrorism under lock and key, thus dispensing with the claim that prosecuting Guantanamo detainees constitute a threat to our national security.

Moreover, if conservative claims that we need to tighten our budgetary belt, closing Guantanamo Bay would contribute to that objective.

Nothing about Guantanamo Bay is consistent with “protecting who we are.”  To the contrary, ever since Guantanamo Bay, torture and rendition became accepted policies, our civil rights have been under constant attack during the past decade, slowly and incrementally at first.

Challenges to economic disparity have been met with brutality on those who are merely protesting a system that makes it possible for Mitt Romney to pay around 15% in income taxes, while the child laborers Newt Gingrich fantasizes about would pay a higher tax rate on their miniscule earnings.

Today it’s at lightning speed. Scott Walker is the epitome of the attack on labor and collective bargaining.  Snyder is establishing an autocracy in Michigan in which even if you can get past the voter suppression laws, you’re vote can be discounted by an unelected bureaucrat who is accountable to the Governor and the Governor alone.

Reproductive rights have been attacked to the point that zygotes are persons, but the women who carry them are considered dispensable.  In fact, we are at the point, that a woman who seeks an abortion to save her own life will be prosecuted.

The relationship between Guantanamo Bay and the attack on our civil rights has more to do with establishing a culture in which rights become privileges.  I’m not saying that Guantanamo Bay produced the attack on our civil liberties.  I am saying that Guantanamo Bay established a culture in which attacks on our civil rights in the name of national security, and nationalism becomes increasingly acceptable.

So what can we do about it?  Well, we can start by signing a petition   at We The People on the White House’s website,   calling on the president to close Guantanamo Bay.  This would re-open the debate on Guantanamo Bay.

One cannot emphasize enough that this is one of those things that the President cannot do unilaterally.  We saw what happened the last time he made the effort to close Guantanamo Bay.  Republicans and many Democrats passed a bill prohibiting the money needed to make it happen.  Aside from precluding our ability to close Guantanamo Bay, this action really had international implications.  As reported by Carol Rosenberg last April, even releasing people known to be innocent was impossible because since the U.S. wouldn’t allow a single one to live here, other countries joined in the NIMBY mentality.

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.

In cable after cable sent to the State Department in Washington, American diplomats make it clear that the unwillingness of the United States to resettle a single detainee in this country — even from among 17 ethnic Muslim Uighurs considered enemies of China’s communist government — made other countries reluctant to take in detainees.

If there are enough signatures calling for closing Guantanamo Bay comes pressure to reopen the discussion and with that the secondary issues that have arisen from congressional obstructionism on all thing Gitmo.  Considering what Guantanamo Bay has done to attitudes about our civil rights, signing this petition is an opportunity we can’t afford to pass up.

Image from Amnestyusa.org.

10 Replies to “We the People Call On Congress To Stop Obstructing The Closure Of GITMO”

  1. Interesting point about all civil rights suffering from this culture and thanks fir pointing out where the obstructionism came from since most news outlets don’t bother. Re member what they dud with the NDaa to get around president Obama on gitmo. They never quit.

  2. In fact, I followed your link, but although it takes me to the petition site, I cannot get the site to function as directed to take my signature.

  3. Great read!
    You nailed many important issues that arrive on our doorstep with the issue of Guantanamo and the illegal detention of FREE people there.

    I might add that many of the citizens in this country STILL have no idea of the people who have been drug and beaten; tortured and abused as they have been kidnapped and run through Guantanamo. Why?

    Because NO one in the media bothers to report on the issue.

    We had the New Yorker try and the blogosphere try with the responsible writers who, like you, bring the issues to light but the mainstream media gave it little coverage until the end of the Bush administration (it was open for 7 years by then) and even then there was little discussion as to the specifics of the prisoners (I refuse to use “detainee” since that term is propagandized and a spin on the truth) other than one or two people, who were in fact guilty of some actions – Khalid Sheikh Mohammed being the most famous and David Hicks more recently.

    Andy Worthington in the UK has spent nearly all of his time compiling specifics on the prisoners, their treatment and their stories; Jason Leopold, of Truthout and The Public Record, has produced some detailed exposes on the camp and the people involved in setting the torture programs there.

    We have a few of the former guards giving testimony and traveling to lecture and support the activism in both the US and the UK but where are the rest ?

    Well, the US MSM won’t report on anything that is not in their corporate interests. It is not in their corporate interest to talk about the US lie. it is not in their interest to shed light on the evil done in our name – better to discuss the latest mall opening or the money spent for Black Friday than to discuss the dying Shaker Aamer, found innocent of any wrong doing in 2007 and still imprisoned in Guantanamo with little hope of ever seeing his country, the UK, again – or his family in the UK.
    Shakar Aamer has been held since 2003. He has been tortured and abused yet there was NEVER any real evidence against him. The US will not let him go. Even after the British Parliament has requested the release directly. Why? Because the US says the UK is not a safe place or worthy of our trust.

    He is ONLY ONE of the stories – there are stories of 12 year old boys and 98 year old men stolen from their families and held in hell.

    I can go through the 600 names of those released from Guantanamo under Bush or I could go through the 8 who died in captivity or the 66 released in THREE YEARS under Obama – the man who promised to CLOSE GUANTANAMO – or the 171 still there:

    004 Wasiq, Abdul-Haq (Afghanistan)
    006 Noori, Mullah Norullah (Afghanistan)
    007 Fazil, Mullah Mohammed (Afghanistan)
    026 Ghazi, Fahed (Yemen)
    027 Uthman, Uthman Abdul Rahim Mohammed (Yemen)
    028 Al Alawi, Muaz (Yemen)
    029 Al Ansi, Mohammed (Yemen)
    030 Al Hakimi, Ahmed (Yemen)
    031 Al Mujahid, Mahmoud (Yemen)
    033 Al Adahi, Mohammed (Yemen)
    034 Al Yafi, Abdullah (Yemen)
    035 Qader Idris, Idris (Yemen)
    036 Idris, Ibrahim (Sudan)
    037 Al Rahabi, Abdul Malik (Yemen)
    038 Al Yazidi, Ridah (Tunisia)
    039 Al Bahlul, Ali Hamza (Yemen)
    040 Al Mudafari, Abdel Qadir (Yemen)
    041 Ahmad, Majid (Yemen)
    042 Shalabi, Abdul Rahman (Saudi Arabia)
    043 Moqbel, Samir (Yemen)
    044 Ghanim, Mohammed (Yemen)
    045 Al Rezehi, Ali Ahmad (Yemen)
    054 Al Qosi, Ibrahim (Sudan)
    063 Al Qahtani, Mohammed (Saudi Arabia)
    088 Awad, Adham Ali (Yemen)
    091 Al Saleh, Abdul (Yemen)
    115 Naser, Abdul Rahman (Yemen)
    117 Al Warafi, Muktar (Yemen)
    128 Al Bihani, Ghaleb (Yemen)
    131 Ben Kend, Salem (Yemen)
    152 Al Khalaqi, Asim (Yemen)
    153 Suleiman, Fayiz (Yemen)
    156 Latif, Adnan Farhan Abdul (Yemen)
    163 Al Qadasi, Khalid (Yemen)
    165 Al Busayss, Said (Yemen)
    167 Al Raimi, Ali Yahya (Yemen)
    168 Hakeemy, Adel (Tunisia)
    170 Masud, Sharaf (Yemen)
    171 Alahdal, Abu Bakr (Yemen)
    174 Sliti, Hisham (Tunisia)
    178 Baada, Tareq (Yemen)
    189 Gherebi, Salem (Libya)
    195 Al Shumrani, Mohammed (Saudi Arabia)
    197 Chekhouri, Younis (Morocco)
    200 Al Qahtani, Said (Saudi Arabia)
    202 Bin Atef, Mahmoud (Yemen)
    219 Razak, Abdul (China)
    223 Sulayman, Abdul Rahman (Yemen)
    224 Muhammad, Abdul Rahman (Yemen)
    232 Al Odah, Fawzi (Kuwait)
    233 Salih, Abdul (Yemen)
    235 Jarabh, Saeed (Yemen)
    238 Hadjarab, Nabil (Algeria-France)
    239 Aamer, Shaker (UK-Saudi Arabia)
    240 Al Shabli, Abdullah (Saudi Arabia)
    242 Qasim, Khaled (Yemen)
    244 Nassir, Abdul Latif (Morocco)
    249 Al Hamiri, Mohammed (Yemen)
    251 Bin Salem, Mohammed (Yemen)
    254 Khenaina, Mohammed (Yemen)
    255 Hatim, Said (Yemen)
    257 Abdulayev, Umar (Tajikistan)
    259 Hintif, Fadil (Yemen)
    263 Sultan, Ashraf (Libya)
    275 Abbas, Yusef (Abdusabar) (China)
    280 Khalik, Saidullah (Khalid) (China)
    282 Abdulghupur, Hajiakbar (China)
    288 Saib, Motai (Algeria)
    290 Belbacha, Ahmed (Algeria)
    309 Abdal Sattar, Muieen (UAE)
    310 Ameziane, Djamel (Algeria)
    321 Kuman, Ahmed Yaslam Said (Yemen)
    324 Al Sabri, Mashur (Yemen)
    326 Ajam, Ahmed (Syria)
    327 Shaaban, Ali Hussein (Syria)
    328 Mohamed, Ahmed (China)
    329 Al Hamawe, Abu Omar (Syria)
    434 Al Shamyri, Mustafa (Yemen)
    440 Bawazir, Mohammed (Yemen)
    441 Al Zahri, Abdul Rahman (Yemen)
    461 Al Qyati, Abdul Rahman (Yemen)
    498 Haidel, Mohammed (Yemen)
    502 Ourgy, Abdul (Tunisia)
    506 Al Dhuby, Khalid (Yemen)
    508 Al Rabie, Salman (Yemen)
    509 Khusruf, Mohammed (Yemen)
    511 Al Nahdi, Sulaiman (Yemen)
    522 Ismail, Yasin (Yemen)
    535 El Sawah, Tariq (Egypt)
    549 Al Dayi, Omar (Yemen)
    550 Zaid, Walid (Yemen)
    552 Al Kandari, Fayiz (Kuwait)
    553 Al Baidhani, Abdul Khaliq (Saudi Arabia)
    554 Al Assani, Fehmi (Yemen)
    560 Mohammed, Haji Wali (Afghanistan)
    564 Bin Amer, Jalal (Yemen)
    566 Qattaa, Mansoor (Saudi Arabia)
    569 Al Shorabi, Zohair (Yemen)
    570 Al Qurashi, Sabri (Yemen)
    572 Al Zabe, Salah (Saudi Arabia)
    574 Al Wady, Hamoud (Yemen)
    575 Al Azani, Saad (Yemen)
    576 Bin Hamdoun, Zahir (Yemen)
    578 Al Suadi, Abdul Aziz (Yemen)
    579 Khairkhwa, Khairullah (Afghanistan)
    680 Hassan, Emad (Yemen)
    682 Al Sharbi, Ghassan (Saudi Arabia)
    684 Tahamuttan, Mohammed (Palestine)
    685 Ali, Abdelrazak (Algeria)
    686 Hakim, Abdel (Yemen)
    688 Ahmed, Fahmi (Yemen)
    689 Salam, Mohamed (Yemen)
    690 Qader, Ahmed Abdul (Yemen)
    691 Al Zarnuki, Mohammed (Yemen)
    694 Barhoumi, Sufyian (Algeria)
    695 Abu Bakr, Omar (Omar Mohammed Khalifh) (Libya)
    696 Al Qahtani, Jabran (Saudi Arabia)
    702 Mingazov, Ravil (Russia)
    707 Muhammed, Noor Uthman (Sudan)
    713 Al Zahrani, Mohammed (Saudi Arabia)
    722 Diyab, Jihad (Syria)
    728 Nassir, Jamil (Yemen)
    753 Zahir, Abdul (Afghanistan)
    757 Abdul Aziz, Ahmed Ould (Mauritania)
    760 Slahi, Mohamedou Ould (Salahi) (Mauritania)
    762 Obaidullah (Afghanistan)
    766 Khadr, Omar (Canada)
    768 Al Darbi, Ahmed Mohammed (Saudi Arabia)
    832 Omari, Mohammed Nabi (Afghanistan)
    836 Saleh, Ayoub Murshid Ali (Yemen)
    837 Al Marwalah, Bashir (Yemen)
    838 Balzuhair, Shawki Awad (Yemen)
    839 Al Madhwani, Musa’ab (Yemen)
    840 Al Maythali, Hail Aziz Ahmed (Yemen)
    841 Nashir, Said Salih Said (Yemen)
    893 Al Bihani, Tawfiq (Saudi Arabia)
    894 Abdul Rahman, Mohammed (Tunisia)
    899 Khan, Shawali (Afghanistan)
    928 Gul, Khi Ali (Afghanistan)
    934 Ghani, Abdul (Afghanistan)
    975 Karim, Bostan (Afghanistan)
    1008 Sohail, Mohammed Mustafa (Afghanistan)
    1015 Almerfedi, Hussein (Yemen)
    1017 Al Rammah, Omar (Zakaria al-Baidany) (Yemen)
    1045 Kamin, Mohammed (Afghanistan)
    1094 Paracha, Saifullah (Pakistan)
    1103 Zahir, Mohammed (Afghanistan)
    1119 Hamidullah, Haji (Afghanistan)
    1453 Al Kazimi, Sanad (Yemen)
    1456 Bin Attash, Hassan (Saudi Arabia)
    1457 Sharqawi, Abdu Ali (Yemen)
    1460 Rabbani, Abdul Rahim Ghulam (Pakistan)
    1461 Rabbani, Mohammed Ghulam (Pakistan)
    1463 Al Hela, Abdulsalam (Yemen)
    10001 Bensayah, Belkacem (Bosnia-Algeria)
    10011 Al Hawsawi, Mustafa (Saudi Arabia)
    10013 Bin Al Shibh, Ramzi (Yemen)
    10014 Bin Attash, Waleed (Saudi Arabia)
    10015 Al Nashiri, Abd Al Rahim (Saudi Arabia)
    10016 Zubaydah, Abu (Palestine-Saudi Arabia)
    10017 Al Libi, Abu Faraj (Libya)
    10018 Al Baluchi, Ammar (Ali Abd Al Aziz Ali) (Pakistan-Kuwait)
    10019 Isamuddin, Riduan (Hamlili) (Indonesia)
    10020 Khan, Majid (Pakistan)
    10021 Bin Amin, Modh Farik (Zubair) (Malaysia)
    10022 Bin Lep, Mohammed (Lillie) (Malaysia)
    10023 Dourad, Gouled Hassan (Somalia)
    10024 Mohammed, Khalid Sheikh (Pakistan-Kuwait)
    10025 Malik, Mohammed Abdul (Kenya)
    10026 Al Iraqi, Abd Al Hadi (Iraq)
    3148 Al Afghani, Haroon (Afghanistan)
    10029 Rahim, Muhammad (Afghanistan)

    Those numbers are how these men are known – numbers assigned when they came in. Please note that one in the list recently was sent to Spain (not his home in Afghanistan) in 2010 but we don’t kn ow which one it is – no one outside the US government does.

    Only a handful ever had any evidence against them and even that is questionable. We aren’t allowed to know what it is….NOR have they been given any trial

    This is a topic that must be on the lips of EVERY American. It is our darkest, most hideous evil. It is what we allow to be done in our name and it is horror epitomized by a concrete and steel prison on a tiny island off our coast.

    Thank you for shining the light.

  4. Hi. The petition is on the WH site and requires registration. If you use Firefox, the captcha may not show.
    Unfortunately, this is the White House’s program so the petition can not be changed.

  5. This time, I managed to register, but it dropped the link, and when I retried, the buttons again refused to work.

  6. So…what would it take to close the whole base and give it back to Cuba? Funding from Congress would become a moot point, we’d improve our relationship with Cuba, and, honestly, what useful purpose does Guantanamo serve?

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