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No More Guantanamos

January 2010 Newsletter

 

In this issue: 

 
Get involved! Contact us about starting a local coalition or asking your coalition to be part of our nationwide network. You may also join here.
 

Guantánamo eight years on

After the attempted bombing aboard a U.S. plane on December 25th, politicians from both sides of the aisle lost no time in publicly questioning President Obama’s plan to close Guantánamo Bay prison, to repatriate any of the 90 remaining Yemeni prisoners, or both. Republican Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham, and Susan Collins; Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman; Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein; and several House members are among those who have thus far expressed their discomfort with some or all of the president’s closure plans.
 
The six Yemeni men whom the Obama administration had repatriated one week before the Christmas attempt will be held in the Yemeni government’s custody “indefinitely.”
 
Although the Obama administration does not appear to be backing down on its plan to close the prison, grassroots education of the U.S. public and our Congress is needed more than ever to correct misperceptions. Here are a few observations that have been largely missing from the heated debate:
  1. Had the Bush administration properly vetted the men it sent to Guantánamo prior to their imprisonment and used court oversight to determine whom to release, it would not have released Said al-Shiri, a Saudi who is an alleged ringleader of the recent bombing attempt.
     
  2. We do not know Abdulmutallab’s motivation for allegedly agreeing to bomb the plane bound for Detroit. However, we know from U.S. interrogators that the leading cause, by far, driving young men to fight Americans is the torture that has taken place at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay prisons.
     
  3. It is beyond the time that the rule of law, not the prisoners’ home addresses, must drive our government’s plans for releasing prisoners. The fates of the six Yemeni men who were released last month and the 90 who remain at Guantánamo should not depend on the problems of the Yemeni government or on alleged terrorist plots they knew nothing about.
The Obama administration now expects to close the prison by 2011, but Congress has already voted against funding the closure and against allowing any of the men to resettle within the United States. Congress’s already weak support for the closure can be expected to weaken even further in the 2010 midterm election year, especially if more attacks against the U.S. are attempted, unless they see the closure as something the American people want.
 
That is why we see our local chapters’ work to educate their communities as essential. We regularly hear stories from NMG coalition members about how their prisoners’ stories helped them break through with someone who had succumbed to fear-mongering about the men at Guantánamo.  Help us help you bring the story of a Guantánamo or Bagram detainee to your community, so that your neighbors can separate truth from fiction and stop fearing equal justice for all the men.

January Calendar

 
Thursday, January 7, 2010: Support Bagram Detainees for Habeas Rights, Washington, DC
 
Where: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 333 Constitution Avenue, NW, at 3rd Street, NW, Washington, DC.
 
What and When: CUNY Law Students for Justice at Bagram will lead a vigil outside the courthouse that begins at 8:30 am, and they welcome more demonstrators with signs. The hearing begins at 9:30 am in the Ceremonial Courtroom (Room 20). There will be a rally/vigil after the hearing.
More info: bagramjustice@gmail.com and the International Justice Network representing 3 men detained without charges at Bagram prison.
 
Sunday, January 10, through Friday, January 22, Witness Against Torture Fast to Close Guantánamo, Washington, DC
 
Sunday 1/10: Screening of Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo followed by discussion
7 pm at St. Stephens Episcopal Church, 1525 Newton Street, NW, at 16th Street, NW
 
Monday 1/11 (Eighth Anniversary):
 
11:30 am: Gather at the White House (plaza between the White House and Lafayette Park) for "No More Guantánamos" theater and rally, and the launch of the Fast and Vigil for Justice, which will end on January 22.  Orange jumpsuits and signs will be available for participants.
 
12:30 pm: Guantánamo Prisoner Procession from the White House to the National Press Club
 
1:00 pm: Public briefing with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
National Press Club, 529 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC
 
Human rights activists and lawyers from CCR, Witness Against Torture, and other organizations will hold a public briefing. The briefing will include an update on conditions at Guantánamo and the struggle of detainees for justice, as well as the reading of letters from released detainees addressing the Obama administration's failure to fulfill the terms of his Executive Order to close Guantánamo.
 
7:00 pm: Eight Years Too Long: Resisting Torture, Inefinite Detention and Abuse at Guantánamo and Beyond: A Grassroots Conversation
Georgetown University Law School, McDonough - Room 207, 600 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington, DC
Speakers will include NMG director Nancy Talanian; Vincent Warren, executive director of CCR; and Pardiss Kebriaie, Staff Attorney with CCR's Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative.
 
Visit Witness Against Torture's website at www.witnesstorture.org for other public events to mark the eighth anniversary through January 22, President Obama's originally announced dateby which Guantanamo prison would be closed.
 
No More Guantánamos is an endorser of the events, and we invite our subscribers and their networks nationwide to mark the 8th anniversary of Guantanamo with congressional office visits in your district, opinion editorials and letters to the editor, and street protests.

New Resources

Watch Videos is the newest section of the No More Guantánamos website. Our goal is to share stories of current and former Guantánamo prisoners. Among the newest additions are two videos from the NMG Pioneer Valley (Massachusetts) chapter produced and edited by Ernest Urvater. The first is a one-hour excerpt of the group’s November 19th forum, with speeches by Guantánamo attorneys Zachary Katznelson and Gary S. Thompson. The second is a talk by Sabin Willett, lead attorney for the Guantánamo Uighurs.
 
Other videos you can watch from the website are a recent interview with journalist and historian Andy Worthington and a powerful, 10-minute video by the ACLU called “Justice Denied: Voices from Guantánamo.”
 
Please send your suggestions of other good videos about Guantánamo and Bagram prisoners and about life at the facilities that are available on the web to us at info (at) nogitmos.org.

Up-to-date summary of Guantánamo prisoners

Andy Worthington’s website http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/ and his book, The Guantánamo Files, are wonderfully comprehensive sources of information on the current and former prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. Worthington has just completed a 2010 update of his “Definitive Prisoner List” in four parts. http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2010/01/04/guantanamo-the-definitive-prisoner-list-updated-for-2010/
 
There you can determine which of the men are still being held and which men have already been released, with their release dates. Of those still at Guantánamo, use the list to determine which men have been charged or cleared for release. Links within each entry direct you to additional information about the prisoner.

Book Review: The Guantánamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law

Edited by Mark P. Denbeaux and Jonathan Hafetz
 
For many of us, the speeches and writings of pro-bono habeas counsel for Guantánamo Bay prisoners have been important sources of information about the prison and its inmates. This book of essays by more than 100 lawyers, including military lawyers, provides an unprecedented insiders’ look at the men they represent, the torture and abuse the men have suffered, daily life in the prison, and the numerous barriers our government has placed before the pro-bono lawyers who try to obtain justice for their clients. It is a treasure-trove for everyone who wants to close the prison with justice and a must-read for those who believe Guantánamo is just fine as it is. (New York University Press, 2009.)

No More Guantánamos
P.O. Box 618
Whately, MA 01093
Telephone: 413-665-1150
 
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