Guantánamo’s broken military commissions
Dear friends and supporters,
With just 110 days left
(tomorrow) for President Obama to close Guantánamo, as he promised when he first took office in January 2009, we at “Close Guantánamo” continue to monitor developments, and to try to keep pressure on the administration.
On October 11, we will be marking the fact that there are just 100 days left to close Guantánamo with the latest stage in our Countdown to Close Guantánamo, which we launched in January, when co-founder Andy Worthington appeared on Democracy Now!
with music legend Roger Waters.
To join us, print off a poster
, take a photo with it, and send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And see the nearly 500 photos sent in to date here
61 men are still held at Guantánamo
, although 20 of them have been approved for release, 13 by the Periodic Review Boards that, since 2013, have been reviewing the cases of all the prisoners nor previously approved for release and not facing trials, and seven by a previous review process, conducted in 2009.
We anticipate hearing that these men will be freed before President Obama leaves office, and we continue to pay close attention to the results of the PRBs, which we have been monitoring since they began in November 2013. See our definitive PRB list here
64 men have had their cases reviewed, and while 33 have been approved for release, 23 have had their ongoing imprisonment approved, although they will all receive additional reviews in the months and years to come. Another eight decisions have not yet been taken. For recent commentary, see Andy’s articles here
, on his website.
As well as continuing to monitor the men in the PRB process, and those approved for release, we are also concerned that the men facing trials are not being delivered anything resembling justice in the military commission trial system that was first launched under George W. Bush in November 2001, that was revived by Congress in 2006, after the Supreme Court had struck it down, and that was revived again, ill-advisedly, under President Obama in 2009.
Just ten of the men still held are facing or have faced trials, and of the eight convictions secured in the commissions’ history, four have been overturned, a shambolic record compared to the success of prosecutions related to terrorism in the federal court system. A major problem , of course, is that the men facing trials at Guantánamo were subjected to torture in CIA “black sites,” and the government wants to suppress all mention of it, while the defence teams are, correctly, insistent that fair trials cannot take place without the facts of the men’s torture being brought into the open to face scrutiny.
In our latest article, Chief Defense Counsel of Guantánamo’s Military Commissions Calls Them a “Poisoned Chalice,” a Betrayal of the Constitution and the Law
, Andy posted — with his own additional commentary — a recent speech given at a national security conference by Brig. Gen. John G. Baker, Chief Defense Counsel of the Military Commissions Defense Organization, in which Brig. Gen. Baker was highly critical of the trial system.
In a key passage towards the end of his speech, Brig. Gen. Baker gave the following relying cry for everyone who seeks the closure of Guantánamo and the delivery of justice to the men still held, which we thoroughly endorse: "Despite its notorious reputation, Guantánamo, and particularly the military commissions, have largely disappeared from the media landscape as a topic. This should change. The topic of human rights and America’s commitment to its own Constitution should be on the front-burner of public debate. Tell your colleagues about the failing military commissions. Tell them how the United States created a substandard system of justice, but only for non-citizens. Tell them about the government’s unconscionable discovery practices. Tell your friends about how the government is trying to conceal evidence of torture or how they are destroying exculpatory evidence."
For further coverage of the military commissions, see Andy’s articles Not Fit for Purpose: The Ongoing Failure of Guantánamo’s Military Commissions
and Guantánamo’s Military Commissions: More Chaos in the Cases of Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri and Majid Khan
, also on his website.
With thanks, as ever, for your ongoing 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
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