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“Close Guantánamo” Campaign And Website Launches: Retired Military Personnel, Lawyers Call For Closure of Guantánamo After 10 Years – OpEd

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Yesterday, at “Guantánamo Forever?” an event at the New America Foundation in Washington D.C., attorney Tom Wilner and journalist Andy Worthington launched “Close Guantánamo,” a new campaign and website designed to provide education about the ongoing injustice of Guantánamo, to provide a focus for those who believe that the prison must be closed, and to provide methods for people to show their support for the closure of Guantánamo. A sign-up page is here, where supporters can help to build up a body of opposition to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to show the Obama administration, Congress and the media how many people are dissatisfied with the President’s inability to close the prison, and the actions of Congress to actively prevent its miserable 10-year history from coming to an end.

In addition, a petition calling for the closure of the prison is on the White House’s “We the People” website, and 25,000 signatures are required within 30 days to secure a response from the White House.

Below is the press release that was issued yesterday announcing the launch of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign and website. Please also join the campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

For the 10th anniversary of the opening of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (on Jan. 11), a group of retired military personnel and lawyers are calling on President Obama to honor his promise to close the prison, which he made when he took office in January 2009.

Signatories to the mission statement for the “Close Guantánamo” campaign include: Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Chief of Staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell; the Hon. John J. Gibbons, former Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; Gen. David M. Brahms (Ret.); Rear Adm. Donald J. Guter (Ret.); Rear Adm. John D. Hutson (Ret.); Col. Morris Davis, former chief prosecutor for the Military Commissions at Guantánamo; and several lawyers who have been involved in the litigation involving Guantánamo and the 171 prisoners still held there.

The mission statement also notes that over half of the remaining 171 prisoners — 89 men in total — have been cleared for release or transfer, and, as the signatories explain:

“It is unacceptable that the U.S. government continues to hold men that its own national security experts have recommended for release or transfer, and that Congress has intervened to maintain this deplorable state of affairs.”

The signatories also note:

“Guantánamo harms our nation every day it stays open, and it continues to serve as a potent symbol for terrorist recruitment.”

The “Close Guantánamo” campaign invites anyone opposed to the continued existence of Guantánamo to sign up to the campaign, to show the President and Congress that there is significant support for the prison’s closure, and also to sign a petition on the White House’s “We the People” website, calling for the prison’s closure. The White House commits to respond to any petition that receives 25,000 signatures within 30 days.

In the months to come, the website will feature stories of the remaining prisoners, via their lawyers, and important background information about the prison, the men held there, and the reasons why the prison is still open, to help people understand why this remains an issue of great importance.

The Steering Committee members are: Gary A. Isaac and Tom Wilner, attorneys who were involved in litigation on behalf of the Guantánamo prisoners before the Supreme Court, and Andy Worthington, journalist and author.

For further information about the petition, Gary A. Isaac can be contacted here.

For further information about the website, and about the campaign in general, Andy Worthington can be contacted here.

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Andy Worthington

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to his RSS feed (he can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see his definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, and, if you appreciate his work, feel free to make a donation.

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