I served 25 years in the US Air Force, I was the Chief Prosecutor for the Terrorism Trials at Guantanamo Bay for more than two years, and now I need your help.
I personally charged Osama Bin Laden’s driver Salim Hamdan, Australian anathema David Hicks, and Canadian teen Omar Khadr. All three were convicted … and then they were released from Guantanamo. More than 160 men who have never been charged with any offense, much less convicted of a war crime, remain at Guantanamo with no end in sight. There is something fundamentally wrong with a system where not being charged with a war crime keeps you locked away indefinitely and a war crime conviction is your ticket home.
As of April 29, 2013 – 100 of the 166 men who remain in Guantanamo are engaged in a hunger strike in protest of their indefinite detention. Twenty-one of them are being force-fed and five are hospitalized. Some of the men have been in prison for more than eleven years without charge or trial. The United States has cleared a majority of the detainees for transfer out of Guantanamo, yet they remain in custody year after year because of their citizenship and ongoing political gamesmanship in the U.S.
That is why I am calling on Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel to use his authority to effect cleared transfers from Guantanamo and on President Obama to appoint an individual within the Administration to lead the effort to close Guantanamo. Obama announced on April 30 that he plans to do his part to close Guantanamo, but he has made this promise before. Now is the time to hold him to his promise and urge him to take the steps necessary to dismantle Guantanamo Bay Prison.
If any other country were treating prisoners the way we are treating those in Guantanamo we would roundly and rightly criticize that country. We can never retake the legal and moral high ground when we claim the right to do unto others that which we would vehemently condemn if done to one of us.
It is probably no surprise that human rights and activist groups like the Center For Constitutional Rights, Witness Against Torture and Amnesty International have been outspoken critics of Guantanamo. It may surprise you that a former military prosecutor and many other retired senior military officers and members of the intelligence community agree with them.
The Patriotic thing, the American thing, the Human thing to do here is to Close Guantanamo. Please join us in the fight by signing this petition.
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington DC, 20500
Re: Concern about hunger strike and stalled efforts to close the detention
facility at Guantánamo Bay
Dear President Obama,
I am writing to urge you to take immediate steps to end indefinite detention without charge and begin closing the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay. If ever there was a moment to act upon the promise you made more than four years ago to close Guantánamo and begin to restore America’s reputation as the champion of the rule of law, it is now.
For several weeks, major news outlets, attorneys for the detainees, and even military officials have reported that there is a hunger strike occurring among a significant number of the men detained at Guantánamo. As a detention facility official told reporters during their visit the week of April 15, “there will be more than one death.” The current situation is the predictable result of continuing to hold detainees indefinitely without charge for more than eleven years. Therefore, I urge you to begin working to transfer the remaining detained men to their home countries or other countries for resettlement, or to charge them in a court that comports with standards we would accept if it was Americans on trial. I also urge you to appoint an individual within your administration to lead the transfer effort.
Specifically, I ask that you:
1) Direct Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel to use his authority to issue the certifications or national security waivers required by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA 2013) to effect transfers from Guantánamo.
2) Appoint an individual within your Administration to lead the effort to close Guantánamo.
3) Announce a concrete and specific plan to close the facility. As a first step and a clear signal that this is the beginning of a new chapter in Guantánamo’s legacy, you should immediately release Shaker Aamer and Djamel Ameziane.
I urge you to order the relevant authorities to take swift measures to humanely and lawfully address the immediate causes of the hunger strike in a manner consistent with international standards of medical ethics before irreparable harm occurs to the detainees. Moreover, I urge you to take steps to address the root of the problem by fulfilling your promise to close Guantánamo without further delay. While I stand ready to support the Administration’s efforts to close Guantánamo Bay in a manner consistent with its international legal obligations, this problem demands the leadership that only you as the President of the United States can provide. I urge you to act now.