Dear President Obama…

I’ve heard President Obama reads ten letters from the public every day. They are picked from 65,000 letters received every week. I thought I’d give it a shot…

Dear President Obama,

I write to you with a statement and question about Guantanamo Bay.

You know Guantanamo Bay is illegal. People from all over the world know it is illegal and they see you (America) allowing it, still detaining, still torturing. Some of us know your hands are largely tied (excuse the pun), but this is a U.S operation and the longer it continues, the more your country appears to be being run by liars and war-hungry hypocrites. I do not use the word ‘liar’ lightly – you have made several speeches since 2008 stating you will close Guantanamo. Nearly six years into your presidency it remains open with 164 captives, only three convicted of a crime. I do not say ‘war-hungry’ lightly either – as you have suggested, the longer detainees are kept, the more likely the possibility of retaliation from their homeland.

I do not need to quote statistics about Guantanamo, of detainees still held without trial, and of the majority who already cleared for release by your interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force, which included senior intelligence and law enforcement officials. Guantanamo has become a legal quagmire of disgusting violations of human rights and puts America to shame. The UK has one remaining citizen held there – Shaker Aamer – detained now for 12 years, twice cleared for release. His accounts of systematic and ongoing torture will read as horrifically to you as they do to us. The camp, set up as part of a ‘War on Terror’, now instead shows the U.S as purveyors of terror and injustice.

My question is in two parts.

Why does the Sixth Amendment to the U.S Constitution not apply to those held at Guantanamo Bay? Where is the “speedy and public trial” for the detainees?

Secondly, You have stated that whilst you suspend habeas corpus and keep Guantanamo open it “gives us less leverage when we want to deal with countries who are abusing human rights.” As these are both ongoing and human rights continue to be violated in the most extreme circumstances, how can you expect the likes of myself to see America as a leader of human rights, of moral decency and justice when we see these ongoing crimes against humanity?

In May you said the camp was a symbol of the U.S flouting the law and it “should never have been opened”. I know you continually work towards the closure of Guantanamo, and that the decision is ultimately in the hands of the U.S Congress. I also know you have the power to release individual detainees, although stringent Congress requirements hinder most transfers. Each detainee costs $2.7m per year. Please release Shaker Aamer, not because of the horrific waste of your tax-payers money, but because he is an innocent father of four and because it is the right thing to do. President Obama, show the world you believe in human rights.

Yours peacefully,
Tony Foster.

guantanamo-justice

16th November 2008…

Q. “There are a number of things you could do early pertaining to executive orders. One of them is to shut down Guantanamo Bay. Another is to change interrogation methods used by U.S troops. Are those things that you plan to take early action on?”

A. “Yes. I have said repeatedly that I intend to close Guantanamo and I will follow through on that. I have said repeatedly that America doesn’t torture, and I’m gonna make sure that we don’t torture. Those are part and parcel of an effort to regain America’s moral stature in the world.”

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