NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING
DONATE TODAY


  September 23, 2013

Is Obama Making Good on His Promise to Close Gitmo?


Four months after Pres. Obama recommitted to close Gitmo, TRNN contributor Michael Ratner gives us an update on the status of the prison
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here
   


Share to Facebook Share to Twitter


I support the Real News because without The Real News we would have no real news at all. - WWH
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


biography

Michael Ratner is President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York and Chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin. He is currently a legal adviser to Wikileaks and Julian Assange. He and CCR brought the first case challenging the Guantanamo detentions and continue in their efforts to close Guantanamo. He taught at Yale Law School, and Columbia Law School, and was President of the National Lawyers Guild. His current books include Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in the Twenty-First Century America, and Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder.

NOTE: Mr. Ratner speaks on his own behalf and not for any organization with which he is affiliated.


transcript

Is Obama Making Good on His Promise to Close Gitmo?JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

September 23 marks four months since President Obama recommitted to closing Gitmo.

Now joining us to give us an update on what the president has done since then is Michael Ratner. He is the president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York and a regular contributor to The Real News.

Thanks for being with us, Michael.

MICHAEL RATNER, PRESIDENT EMERITUS, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: Good to be with you, Jessica, and good to be with Real News.

DESVARIEUX: So, Michael, what has the president actually done since he made his promise about four months ago to close Gitmo?

RATNER: You know how they used to say Nero fiddled while Rome burned? Well, Obama has been fiddling while Guantanamo remains open. A hundred and sixty-four people remain there. They're indefinitely detained. They've been there for 12 years, most of them. In fact, the Center for Constitutional Rights, where I work, was the earliest organization that started litigating those cases. We filed the cases in February 2002. Some of those people remain in Guantanamo.

I'm talking about it. As you pointed out, it's the four-month anniversary of the speech he gave saying he would close Guantanamo. He only gave that speech after the hunger strike started some two months before, and he was fearful, I think, that people were going to start to die on the hunger strike and fearful that there was an opposition growing in the United States and around the world to Guantanamo, and he tried to calm it down. So he gave this speech four months ago--again, was forced because of the hunger strike.

But once again, it's typical Obama. He calmed the waters with a speech in which he made a lot of promises, as he has done before with Guantanamo. Look it, he promised he was going to close Guantanamo before he was elected five years ago. Within a few days of taking office he signed an executive order saying he would close it. It still remains open. He, unfortunately, keeps giving speeches but doesn't actually do anything.

So let's look at the two things that he promised in that speech. The first is that he would reappoint or appoint someone in the administration to the Department of Defense to help close Guantanamo and get it closed. You have to remember, in the second term he got rid of the people who were going to close Guantanamo. Only after the hunger strike did he make a promise that he would appoint a Defense Department person to close it. He has failed to do that, not done it. Inexcusable. There's someone at State Department but no one at the Department of Defense. He can't even get that off the ground.

The second thing he promised--the second thing he promised was that he would start to transfer people to the countries they were from or other countries where they could be safely held. And let's look at that. There are some 86 people who the United States government itself has said are cleared for release. That means they're not guilty of anything. Never been tried. But even my own government, our own government says they've been cleared. They can go back to countries.

Now, it's true that Congress has put restrictions on those transfers. The president has to go through certain hoops, does these certifications. But in fact he can transfer 86 people that have been cleared for release tomorrow. He can do it. He can certify it, give Congress the 30-day notice, and then get them transferred.

What has he done in four months? He's transferred two people in four months to Algeria. There were 88 that could be transferred who had been cleared. Now there's 86. So that's promise number two. Promise number two he has not fulfilled at all. So it's another case in which Obama has made promises, but it's what I call pious insincerity.

Nothing has happened, really, to close Guantanamo. And I fear without action by all of us who are watching this newscast and otherwise that Guantanamo will continue.

Let's go back through the numbers. A hundred and sixty-six remain there. Eighty-six have been cleared for release. The remainder, the ones that aren't cleared, should be processed and either cleared and transferred, or they should actually be tried. But, of course, there's a trial going on that's been going on for a number of years already. That doesn't seem to be happening.

Our position at the Center for Constitutional Rights is you either transfer those people immediately or you try them immediately and try them in federal courts where they can get, arguably, a fairer trial than they can ever get at Guantanamo.

What I want to recommend to all the viewers is, obviously, go to the Center for Constitutional Rights website, sign the petitions, get active, go to another website called Witness Against Torture. Witness Against Torture recommends three actions. People are fasting in solidarity with the Guantanamo hunger strike, which is still going on. People are still being force-fed at Guantanamo. People around the country are starting to fast in solidarity. Write to one of the prisoners at Guantanamo. They can help you do that. And make some phone calls to the president, the Congress, and others. But let's get this thing closed.

You know, I always think--and I'll end it on this note--if Pinochet were running an offshore prison indefinitely detaining political prisoners, we would be outraged. The world would be outraged. The United States, which claimed once to stand for human rights, is running an offshore inhuman prison camp. Let's see ourselves get outraged. Let's get that camp closed once and for all.

DESVARIEUX: We'll certainly be keeping track of this story until the camp is closed.

Michael, thank you so much for your analysis.

RATNER: Thank you for having me.

DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.



Comments

Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

latest stories

Nina Turner Kept Off DNC Stage as Punishment for Supporting Sanders - RAI (2/4)
President Obama Commutes Sentences of Chelsea Manning and Oscar Lopez River
Nationwide Protests to Oppose Trump and Disrupt his Inauguration
Former Black Panther: Trump Win Gives Us Unique Opportunity to Organize the Ongoing Freedom Struggle
Low-Wage Workers in London Protest Against Management Taking Their Tips
The Bizarre Far-Right Billionaire Behind Trump's Presidency
TRNN Replay: Obamanomics: Is this real change?
Chelsea Manning on TRNN
"The Democratic Party Can't Just Whisper Sweet Nothings Anymore" - Nina Turner on RAI (1/4)
Nina Turner Show Coming to The Real News
An urgent letter from Emma Thompson & Danny Glover
Donald Trump: The Raw and Naked Face of a System That Showers Speculators with Obscene Riches
Trump's Biggest Donor Bankrolls Israeli Right Extremism
Climate Change-Induced Droughts in Africa Spawn Food Shortages, Mass Child Malnutrition
AZ Attorney General Pursues Denial of In-state Tuition for DACA Recipients
Rattling the Bars: Juvenile Life Without Parole
Demonetization: A Body Blow to the Indian Economy and People
Obama and Congress Just Made it Easier For Trump to Arm Syrian Rebels
TRNN Replay: Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence
Protest Against Mass Rapes in Korea During WW2 Prompts Recall of Japanese Envoy
TRNN Replay: The Koch Brothers' War on Climate Science​
TRNN Replay: MLK: Why I Am Opposed to The War in Vietnam
TRNN Replay: How MLK Went From 'National Threat' to 'National Hero'
Republican Healthcare Plan: Skimpier, Meaner Obamacare
Investors Bet Big on Trump for Big Pharma
TRNN Replay: Obama Delivers Republican Arguments
Tillerson Refuses to Acknowledge ExxonMobil's Efforts to Deceive the Public on Climate Change
DOJ's Consent Agreement with Baltimore Aims to End Abusive Policing, But Will it Work?
Childhood Obesity Rates Steady, But Remain at High Levels
Trump Far More Interested in Business Deals than the Business of the Nation

TheRealNewsNetwork.com, RealNewsNetwork.com, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Linux VPS Hosting by Stack Star Hosting