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The Relentless Importance of Closing Guantánamo

"The Relentless Importance of Closing Guantánamo" is our latest article here at "Close Guantánamo," establishing our key demands for President Obama's second and final term in office.

The article was prompted by the news that Daniel Fried, the State Department official charged with resettling prisoners in Obama's first term, has been reassigned. This sends a message that the administration no longer cares about closing Guantánamo. There is some truth in that, but it is also of crucial importance that the President finds -- or relocates -- the will to close Guantánamo, as he promised in his second day in office in January 2009, and also that he takes the fight to Congress, where lawmakers -- almost entirely for cynical reasons involving political opportunism -- have imposed onerous restrictions on his ability to close the prison and to release any prisoners. 

To this must be added the President's own ban on releasing any cleared Yemenis -- who make up two-thirds of the 86 cleared prisoners who are still held, out of 166 prisoners in total -- which he imposed in the wake of the failed underwear bomb plot on Christmas Day 2009, when it transpired that the plot involved a man recruited in Yemen. The President urgently needs to drop this ban, and free the men, who, remember, his own Guantánamo Review Task Force -- comprising sober and responsible officials from the main government departments and the intelligence agencies -- already recommended for release three years ago. Continuing to hold these men is imposing punishment -- in the form of indefinite detention without charge or trial -- on the basis of nothing ore than their nationality, which is unforgivable.

These are men like Mohammed al-Hamiri, whose story we profiled recently, in an article entitled, "From Guantánamo, An Innocent Man Pleads for Release," in which we made available a profile by his attorney, Omar Farah of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

We hope you will join us in supporting the following three demands, asking President Obama to: 

1: Lift the ban on releasing any of the 56 cleared Yemenis from Guantánamo, imposed in January 2010.

2: Appoint a new person to deal specifically with closing Guantánamo, to find new homes for the cleared prisoners in need of assistance.

3: Take the fight to Congress to stop treating the cleared prisoners as pawns in a cynical game of political maneuvering, and to clear the way for all 86 cleared prisoners to be repatriated or safely rehoused in other countries.

Please help us by writing to President Obama, and to Secretary of State John Kerry:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

or email the President.

Secretary of State John Kerry
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Please also ask your friends and family 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.

Our thanks as ever for your support.
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