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Response to Obama Statement "Guantanamo will not close by January 2010"

category international | rights, freedoms and repression | press release author Friday November 20, 2009 10:04author by Witness Against Tortureauthor address U.S.A. Report this post to the editors

Justice Delayed, Justice Denied
Witness Against Torture Responds to Obama’s Statement that Guantanamo
Will Not Close by January 2010.

Join us: Fast and Vigil to Shut Down Guantanamo, End Torture and
Build Justice,

Wednesday, November 18. President Barack Obama conceded today that
the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba will not close within
the one year mandated by the Executive Order he signed on January emi22,
2009. This is a disappointment but not a surprise.

For months, the administration has been sending signals that it
over-reached in its timetable. The given reasons for the delay are
likewise familiar: that the Bush administration left a legal mess,
requiring painstaking work to determine the ideal means for handling
the remaining detainees; that it has been hard to find countries to
admit detainees who cannot be resettled in their countries of origin
due to fears of ill-treatment; and that unanticipated domestic
resistance to Guantanamo’s closure, much of it fueled by
fear-mongering and partisan politics, has slowed the process. These
impediments, while real wrenches in the grinding wheels of policy,
cannot excuse the moral and constitutional disaster that Guantanamo's
continuing operation represents.

Since coming to office, the Obama administration has presented
Guantanamo as an administrative problem, a cause of embarrassment, and
a foreign policy liability. It has never faced Guantanamo for what it
truly is: a grave injustice which the United States is duty bound, by
the best of its traditions and basic standards of fairness and
decency, to immediately set right.

"Justice Delayed is Justice Denied" — the great maxim of the Civil
Rights Movement that made Barack Obama's political ascent possible —
has been forgotten. Martin Luther King Jr.'s talk of "The Fierce
Urgency of Now," repeatedly invoked by President Obama to push ahead
with domestic reforms, has been replaced, for the Guantanamo detainees
and anyone who cares about the rule of law, with "the fickle hope of
eventually" and “the self-serving pledge of maybe."

All the while, the Obama administration proclaims its intent to put
U.S. policies and practices in accordance with our laws and values.
Yet the United States continues to detain dozens of men at Guantanamo
who have been cleared for release. In the case of the remaining
Uighurs, the administration has advanced the Orwellian conclusion that
they are no longer prisoners — they just have nowhere to go, and must
therefore remain on the dusty gulag.

Echoing the policies of Bush, Obama proposes the indefinite detention,
without charge or trial, of detainees against whom no case has been
built or from whom "evidence" was obtained through torture. The Obama
Justice Department repeatedly invokes the "state secrets" defense to
beat back legal efforts of those kidnapped and tortured to receive
acknowledgment of their injury and compensation for it. And it has
steadfastly refused to investigate and, if warranted, prosecute those
who designed and ordered torture policies, choosing instead a limited
inquiry into the most egregious cases of "unauthorized" detainee

Finally, it has allowed obsessive attention with the truly dangerous
men in U.S. detention — such as Khalid Sheik Mohammed and other Al
Qaeda leaders — to obscure the fact the great majority of detainees
held at Guantanamo have been falsely imprisoned.

How is it tolerable within the framework of American laws and values
to hold for even one day longer men who, innocent of any crime, have
been stolen from their families, tortured, and dehumanized?

How is it tolerable to knowingly imprison innocent men while failing
to indict officials who — a preponderance of public evidence suggests
— are guilty of heinous political crimes and violations of human
rights? How can the rule of law be restored when U.S. laws are not
even enforced?

And how can the wreckage of the past be cleared when the key monument
of that wreckage, the detention facility at Guantanamo, remains

The Obama administration will continue to face enormous hostility —
much of it paranoid, opportunistic, and vicious — to even its
inadequate efforts to undo the worst of the Bush era policies. Those
efforts must be supported, for the real good they will bring and to
beat back domestic forces ready to plunge the United States into a new
nightmare of lawlessness and wanton cruelty in the name of "national

But the administration must also be held to its words and promises.
Its failures cannot be masked with rationalizations and false
deference to the constraints of partisan bickering and legal
complexities. The inability to fulfill the mandate of the Executive
Order to close Guantanamo within a year is just such a failure, making
still more urgent the demand for true justice.


Witness Against Torture is a grassroots organization committed to
closing Guantanamo, Bagram and ending torture. The group will hold a
fast and vigil in Washington, DC from January 11, 2010—the date
marking eight years since Guantanamo’s beginning as a “war on terror”
prison through January 22, 2010, the date by which the Obama
administration committed to closing the facility. To learn more about
the fast and vigil to Shut Down Guantanamo, End Torture and Build
Justice visit

Related Link:
author by Show Trial Time - Counterpunchpublication date Sat Nov 21, 2009 14:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It’s Show Trial Time!

You can’t please all of the people all of the time, but President Obama and his Attorney General, Eric Holder, have got nearer than most to pulling it off. A week ago Holder announced that Khaled Shaikh Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators will soon go on trial in federal court in New York for planning the attacks of September 11, 2001. After a week’s uproar it’s fair to conclude that this was smart politics on the part of the Obama team. The fact that Holder, a man with famously sensitive political antennae, told the press that political considerations played “no part” in his decision only buttresses this judgment. The prime function of all US Attorneys General is to loyally undertake the political requirements of their President.

The scenario envisaged by Obama, his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and Holder is presumably that somehow a jury of unprejudiced citizens will be convened, and ultimately – hopefully sometime before the election of 2012, at least Khaled Sjhaikh Mohammed will step into the execution chamber, thus vindicating Obama’s oft-advertised commitment to track down the perps of 9/11 and kill them. So eager is Obama to underline this point that last Friday he declared in Japan that those offended by the trial will not find it “offensive at all when he’s convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him.”. This remark came right after his assertion that the trial would be “subject to the most exacting demands of justice.” Realising that the latter remark might be construed by some pettifogging civil libertarians as prejudicial to a fair trial , Obama then added that he was “not going to be in that courtroom. That’s the job of the prosecutors, the judge and the jury.”

Article continued.......

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