Michael Moore, Oliver Stone Sign NYT Ad to Close Guantanamo
by Debra Sweet The powerful Close Guantanamo NOW message signed now by 1700 people including notable artists and writers, appeared in The New York Times just before President Obama spoke Thursday on how he will carry forward a “just” war, normalizing, and in some ways escalating U.S. use of targeted assassination and indefinite detention.
In light of the president's speech, our message is more relevant than ever, and we have to publish it more widely.
Guantanamo: 106 days into the prisoners’ hunger strike, the president said he still wants to close Guantanamo (but did not say he would) and “will lift the ban” on releasing the Yemeni prisoners (for which he gave no timetable, and expressed no urgency). Most dangerously, he appeared to endorse continued indefinite detention and the use of grossly unfair military commissions, instead of charging and trying the men with civil judicial process.
Theatrical protest in Times Square, NYC, this spring to support hunger strike of Guantanamo prisoners
We said, Close Guantanamo NOW, immediately release cleared prisoners, and end the use of indefinite detention. See In Guantanamo, Fine Words are No Substitute for Freedom by journalist Andy Worthington, one of our signers.Marjorie Cohn, an expert on international law, points out that even though Obama mentioned force-feeding and asked, “Is that who we are,”
“...Obama failed to note that the United Nations Human Rights Commission determined in 2006 that the violent force-feeding of detainees at Guantanamo amounted to torture and that he has continued that policy.”
At best, the prospects of closing Guantanamo are back to those of 2008, when candidate Obama promised to do so. So much depends on usescalating the outcry and demand for justice. Here's what you can do now.
Learn more about the prisoners and the hidden history of the detention centerbuilt to avoid U.S. law. Guantanamo is a torture camp from which the only exit for the last two years was in a coffin. Thursday, attorney Clive Stafford Smithtweeted that his client from Tunisia, Adel Hamlily, just made a suicide attempt, prompted by the sexual humiliation of genital searches guards recently began on the Guantanamo prisoners.
His organization, Reprieve (based in the UK), issued a press release yesterday titled, “Obama fails to provide any meaningful assistance to suffering Guantanamo detainees.” Prisoners are foregoing their right to phone calls with family or lawyers in order to avoid the sexual assaults which accompany them: “Many prisoners now describe their treatment in the camp as being worse than under President George W. Bush.”
Moazzam Begg, a British prisoner freed in 2004, said on Thursday that the prisoners are:
“...primarily striking for their freedom, for being held for so long without charge or trial - but they’re also striking for being given these invasive cavity searches every time their lawyer visits, and every time he leaves, for the desecration of the Koran, for the strip searches, for the food and all of these things that they’ve had to bear over the past eleven years. And until they actually get to see the plane that is going to be taking them home, and even then they’ll be skeptical, I don’t think they’ll be stopping their protest any time soon.”
Obama's real promise: expanded targeted killing via drones.
Obama defended broad executive authority to kill targets, perhaps even more widely than he has previously. His speech amounted to an argument for, and announcement of a permanent infrastructure for assassination. As the McClatchy newspaper put it,
“In every previous speech, interview and congressional testimony, Obama and his top aides have said that drone strikes are restricted to killing confirmed ‘senior operational leaders of al Qaida and associated forces’ plotting imminent violent attacks against the United States.
“But Obama dropped that wording Thursday, making no reference at all to senior operational leaders. While saying that the United States is at war with al Qaida and its associated forces, he used a variety of descriptions of potential targets, from ‘those who want to kill us’ and ‘terrorists who pose a continuing and imminent threat’ to ‘all potential terrorist targets.’”
A year ago, Attorney General Eric Holder said in regards to targeted killing that “due process and judicial process are not one and the same.” He and Obama argue that “due process” is whatever they, and their closest advisors, perhaps overseen by some in Congress, say it is. This is actually worse than the Bush standard in its promotion of extra-legal and extra-judicial means.
Only in this country (with the biggest military in world history) could it seem legitimate to debate whether large occupying armies or stealth cross-border assassinations with mass incineration would more alienate local populations.But war for empire, no matter the strategy or tactics, is illegitimate, immoral and unjust. As we said in the ad published this week, “Actions that utilize de facto torture, that run roughshod over the rule of law and due process, and that rain down terror and murder on peoples and nations,amount to war crimes.”
See: “Is that who we are?” Obama’s Speech on Drones and Preventive and Indefinite Detention by my colleague Dennis Loo who wrote the Close Guantanamo ad.
We must show the world there is a section of people in the U.S. who care about humanity. Donate to help publish this message as soon as possible internationally, and in alternative media. We have been offered very substantial discounts to publish in the International Herald Tribue and The Progressive. Whether we can publish there quickly — or in other online or print media — depends entirely on you.
Over a Thousand Activists Sign Full-Page Ad to Close Guantanamo
Close Guantánamo Now!
Read and join Michael Moore, Oliver Stone, Alice Walker,
Noam Chomsky, Brig. Gen. (Ret) Janis Karpinski
and many more in signing this statement”
We thank Medea Benjamin, who signed our collective message, for challenging President Obama during his speech Thursday to use his executive authority to close Guantanamo immediately and to stop targeted killing. She specifically criticized the killing of Abdul Rahman al-Aulaqi, the 16 year old American citizen killed in a drone attack in Yemen. (VIDEO)