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Keeping an eye on President Obama's promises.
Close Guantnamo

Toothless reviews and pressure from Nobel Prize winners

Dear friends and supporters,

With just days to go before the mid-term elections, it is uncertain what changes there will be in Congress, and whether those changes will raise new obstacles to the release of prisoners from Guantánamo and the eventual closure of the prison.

Whatever the new make-up of the House and the Senate, President Obama -- and his defense secretary, Chuck Hagel -- retain the power to bypass Congress or to issue certifications prior to the release of prisoners indicating that appropriate security measures have been undertaken.

Currently, there are 75 prisoners still held who were approved for release by the high-level, inter-agency Guantánamo Review Task Force that President Obama established after first taking office in January 2009. The majority of these men -- 55 of them -- are Yemenis, and the administration needs to begin releasing them, after years in which the entire U.S. establishment has refused to release any Yemenis because of fears about the security situation in Yemen.

Since January this year, five more men have been added to the list of prisoners approved for release. These five -- three Yemenis, a Kuwaiti and a Saudi -- were approved for release by Periodic Review Boards, inter-agency review boards established to review the cases of the majority of the 74 other prisoners, the ones not approved for release by the task force in 2009.

In our most recent article, "Fifth Guantánamo Prisoner's Release Recommended by Periodic Review Board, But When Will These Men Be Released?" Andy Worthington looks at the story of the most recent prisoner approved for release -- plus the fourth man to be recommended for ongoing imprisonment -- but points out that the reviews are worthless if none of the men approved for release are actually freed.

As Andy states in his article, "For the Periodic Review Boards to claim any integrity, all five men approved for release need to be released as soon as possible -- and for the Obama administration's credibility, it is also important that the 75 other men cleared for release should also be freed."

12 Nobel Peace Prize winners

In other news, 12 Nobel Peace Prize winners -- including Archbishop Desmond Tutu -- have written to President Obama calling for him to reveal full details of the U.S. torture program and to close Guantánamo, as he promised when he first took office. You can read Andy's article about the letter here, and you can also email a message to President Obama here, where you can also find out more about the 12 Nobel Peace Prize winners.

Other things you can do

To call for the release of all the men approved for release from Guantánamo, please phone the White House on 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414 or submit a comment online.

You can also call the Department of Defense and ask Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to issue certifications, as required by Congress, for prisoners cleared for release who are still held: 703-571-3343.

You can also call Cliff Sloan, the envoy for the closure of Guantánamo at the State Department, who was appointed by President Obama last year, to ask him to do more to secure the release of men long cleared for release: 202-647-4000.

With thanks, as ever, for your support.

The "Close Guantánamo" team

P.S. Please, if you will, 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. Please also note that we can be found on Twitter here and on Facebook here.
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