100 Day Guantanamo Hunger Strike Press Conference at National Press Club Thursday, May 16, 10am

Davidswanson – Posted on 15 May 2013

Washington, DC — On Thursday, May 16th at 10am CODEPINK will be hosting a press conference in the Zenger Room at the National Press Club. As the health of the striking prisoners deteriorates, human rights advocates and military officials are speaking out, calling on President Obama to take immediate action to close the prison.
Speakers (full bios below):
Colonel Morris Davis, former Guantanamo Chief Prosecutor
Carlos Warner, lawyer for eleven Guantanamo Bay detainees
Captain Jason Wright, JAG lawyer for two Guantanamo Bay detainees
Imam Mahdi Bray, Executive Director of the Muslim American Society’s Freedom Foundation
Diane Wilson, military veteran on a hunger strike since May 1 to close Guantanamo
Medea Benjamin, moderator, CODEPINK cofounder
The following day, Friday May 17th, marking the 100th day of the beginning of the hunger strike, a coalition of activists will stage a vigil in front of the White House from noon until 1:00 pm. They will don orange jumpsuits like the ones worn in Guantanamo, read the names of the prisoners and letters from their families. Colonel Morris Davis will deliver his change.org petition, with over 200,000 signatures, to the White House.
CODEPINK has launched an urgent call to save the lives of the 130 prisoners on hunger strike in Guantanamo and has been staging actions across DC for the last several weeks. Over 1,200 people from around the world have joined a rolling hunger strike. Diane Wilson, who will be speaking at the press conference, has been on a water-only hunger strike since May 1st and intends to continue her strike until the prisoners cleared for release begin to be freed.
Speaker bios:
Colonel Morris Davis: Colonel Morris D. Davis (born July 31, 1958) is a United States Air Force officer and lawyer, was appointed to serve as the third Chief Prosecutor of the Guantanamo military commissions September 2005 until October 2007. He resigned from the position due to objecting to the appointment of William J. Jaynes, II, former General Counsel of the Department of Defense, as Presiding Officer of the commissions. He retired from active duty in October 2008 and has been speaking out publicly against the continued operations at Guantanamo Bay prison.
Captain Jason Wright represents two Guantanamo Bay detainees facing trial
before the U.S. Military Commissions: U.S. v. Khalid Shaikh Mohammad and U.S.
v. Obaidullah. Mr. Mohammad’s capital case is currently in active litigation, and
Mr. Obaidullah remains uncharged despite enduring more than 11 years of
In August 2011, CPT Wright was assigned to the Office of the Chief Defense Counsel for the U.S. Military Commissions and now splits his time between their offices in Washington, D.C. and U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay.
Carlos Warner
Carlos is an Assistant Public Defender for the Northern District of Ohio. He has been a public defender for 15 years. He, along with his colleagues, represent 11 men held at Guantanamo Bay, including Yemeni men cleared for release. He has worked tirelessly to close Guantanamo both publicly and behind the scenes. He still believes with the President’s will and force, the prison could be shuttered in a year.
Imam Mahdi Bray is a long-time civil and human rights activist currently serving as the Executive Director of the Muslim American Society’s Freedom Foundation (MAS Freedom), and former President of the Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations (CCMO). Imam Bray serves on the Board of Directors of the Interfaith Alliance, Interfaith Worker Justice and is a national co-convener of Religions of Peace-USA. He has served as political advisor and strategist to several national state and local political campaigns. Imam Bray has served as a liaison between the President’s White House Faith-Based Initiative Program and Congressional Affairs on behalf of the Muslim Community.
Medea Benjamin is cofounder of the peace group CODEPINK and the human rights group Global Exchange. She has worked for years to close Guantanamo, including organizing a march of former prisoners and family members of present prisoners to the Cuban side of Guantanamo. She is author of several books on US policy, including Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.
Diane Wilson is an environmental activist, anti-war activist, an author, and a fourth generation shrimper from Texas. She is a co-founder of the anti-war organization CODEPINK. She has been on a water-only hunger strike since May 1st in solidarity with the prisoners and intends to continue her strike until the prisoners cleared for release begin to be freed. On May 10, Ms. Wilson, a grandmother, was arrested at the White House for chaining herself, by her neck, to the fence.

The Moment When Barack Obama Decided Not To Close Guantánamo Bay

Michael Kelley | May 15, 2013, 11:19 AM |


obama gitmo

REUTERS/Larry Downing

U.S. President Barack Obama while signing an executive order closing the U.S. detention center in Guantánamo, Cuba, on January 22, 2009.

On his second day in office President Barack Obama signed an executive order to close the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, established to indefinitely detain and interrogate suspected terrorists, within a year. 

But more than four years later, 168 prisoners remain at the facility, including 86 who have been cleared for release.

Senior UN human rights experts are calling for the indefinite detention facility to be closed and its prisoners released as 100 prisoners participate in a hunger strike that has led to force-feeding.

So what happened to Obama’s campaign promise and executive order?

In the new book “Dirty Wars: The World Is A Battlefield,” investigative journalist and New York Times bestselling author Jeremy Scahill argues that the choice to keep the Gitmo was made around January 2010.

From “Dirty Wars” (emphasis ours):

In early 2010, the Obama administration canceled the scheduled repatriation of more than thirty Yemenis held at Guantánamo who had already been cleared for release.

“Given the unsettled situation [in Yemen], I’ve spoken to the attorney general and we’ve agreed that we will not be transferring additional detainees back to Yemen at this time,” President Obama said on January 5.

Lawyers for some of the Yemeni prisoners called the decisions “unconscionable,” saying it would “effectively prevent any meaningful progress towards closing Guantánamo, which President Obama has repeatedly argued will make our nation safer.”

It was clear that for the Obama administration, the Gitmo issue, a central pillar of the president’s election campaign, was far less pressing than its counterterrorism agenda in Yemen, which had more citizens at the prison than any other nation.”

The seeds of change began with an al Qaeda resurgence in Yemen from 2007 to 2009, as Scahill details.

In October 2008 U.S. Special Operations Forces were already carrying out “unilateral, direct actions” against al Qaeda suspects in Yemen, special ops veterans told Scahill.

Within days of Obama signing the Gitmo pledge, a former detainee named Said Ali al Shihri appeared in a YouTube video with three others to announce the creation of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

The U.S. subsequently expanded military action in Yemen, and in the summer Obama authorized the expansion of special ops capture/kill missions in the country.

By December 2010 Joint Special Operations Command was operating its own drones in Yemen as ground and air raids increased further.

Today91 of Gitmo’s 166 detainees are from Yemen while the country is the second biggest front (behind Pakistan) in America’s drone war against suspected terrorists.

Last month President Obama renewed his vow to close Gitmo, saying that the facility is “expensive,” “inefficient,” damaging to America’s international standing, and “a recruitment tool for extremists.”

Nevertheless, if the president to make good on his promise, the first move may have to be some sort of counterterrorism breakthrough in Yemen.

Buy “Dirty Wars” by Jeremy Scahill >

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-decided-he-wasnt-closing-gitmo-2013-5#ixzz2TOBUHM3S

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