Yesterday marked day 250 of the Guantanamo hunger strike. While it is officially “over” – 17 prisoners are reported to still be on hunger strike with 16 being force fed.
This forces us to ask… WHY is Guantanamo Bay still open almost 12 years later? Why are 86 men who were cleared for release years ago still being held captive without charges or trials?
Nine men have already died waiting for that answer. Nine. That means more detainees have died in Guantanamo than have been convicted of wrongdoing by its military commissions (six).
Soon after taking office, Obama signed an executive order that required Guantanamo to be closed within a year.
“The detention facilities at Guantánamo for individuals covered by this order shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order,” read the statement he signed on Jan. 22, 2009.
So WHY has Shaker Aamer, who has been cleared since 2007, not yet met his 11 year old son? Why are we spending $900,000 per year, per detainee? That is over 30 times the cost of keeping someone in a prison in the US, by the way. Why did Amendment 70 to H R 2397, which prohibits the construction or expansion of facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, even exist? How about Amendment 69, which prohibits the US from continuing to hold individuals at Gitmo who have been cleared for release? And WHY did both of them fail this summer? These shouldn’t even be up for debate, let alone failing.
The problem is, our peach /endsarcasm of a president just keeps blaming congress, failing to mention that he has the power to override them and free these hostages we are holding. There’s plenty of things (see #fuckyoucongress) we can blame congress for, especially on this, day 13 of their temper tantrum, but Gitmo just isn’t one of those things. Congress doesn’t have the authority to force the president to violate the laws of war.
Obama has the executive power to release detainees or transfer them for trial. Period. End of story.
So, what can we do?
Call the White House and ask President Obama to release all the men cleared for release, and to make sure that reviews for the other men are fair and objective. Call 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414.
Call the Department of Defense and ask Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to issue certifications for other cleared prisoners: 703-571-3343.
My personal favorite thing we can do is pick a detainee or two and write them a letter to let them know we are still thinking of them. You can find a list of detainees and the address here along with short details of their situations and interests.
Or someone could give The Drone King a blowjob so we could get the impeachment process going. Either way…