President Obama issued an executive order on January 22, 2009, ordering the closure of the offshore prison camp at Guantánamo Bay within one year. It is seven years long past time to close Guantánamo, and President Obama must take decisive action to ensure that it happens swiftly. For seven years, the men at Guantánamo have suffered in horrendous conditions from an arbitrary detention regime, kept from their families, homes and communities with little to no legal process or hope to secure justice.
It is of deep concern that this executive order projects a timeline of one year for closing the prison camp and outlines no concrete steps. In one year, the men at Guantánamo will have been held there indefinitely for eight full years. We know that President Obama can do better, and we want him to know that the people of the United States, who overwhelmingly elected him and rejected the legacy of the Bush administration, want him to do better.
There is a great deal of discussion about the difficulty of closing the base. In fact, as the Center for Constitutional Rights has laid out in a clear and concise report, closing Guantánamo is easy. There are three simple and necessary steps to close Guantánamo:
1. send those who can go home home,
2. secure safe haven for those who cannot, and
3. charge those who can be charged then try them in ordinary federal criminal court.
President Obama should commit to dismantling the military commissions, not just suspending them, and to prosecuting any cases before federal criminal courts - real courts with real laws.
Please join us today to write to President Obama, and let him know that the people of the United States are calling upon him to seize this historic opportunity and to show true leadership in closing Guantánamo swiftly and effectively, closing the book on this dark chapter in the history of the United States.