Guantanamo: When Will It Get Foreclosed?

Please keep in your prayers those who are fasting and praying at the U.S. capitol between January 11 to 21, keeping vigil for the closing of the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo. As an opening to their prayer vigil Wednesday, they engaged in a little prophetic street theater in front of the Justice Department.

In August 2007, candidate Obama promised to close Guantanamo, saying, "As President, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act and adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Our Constitution and our Uniform Code of Military Justice provide a framework for dealing with the terrorists."

In January 2009, one of President Obama's first official acts was to sign an executive order promising to close Guantanamo within one year. "This is me following through on not just a commitment I made during the campaign, but I think an understanding that dates back to our founding fathers, that we are willing to observe core standards of conduct, not just when it's easy, but also when it's hard," he said.

Still-Open Wounds

Two days after his inauguration, President Obama signed orders to end the CIA’s use of torture as an interrogation tool and to close the notorious Guantánamo Bay detention center within a year. That deadline has passed, and about 200 prisoners are still being held at Guantánamo without due process. Meanwhile, plans for transferring prisoners to new locations proceed at a glacial pace: Only 30 detainees were moved in 2009. In November more than 40 senior leaders of major faith groups signed a statement with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) calling for the immediate closing of Guantánamo, saying that “closing Guantánamo Bay is necessary for the nation to continue healing the wounds left by this sad chapter of its history.”

For NRCAT executive director Richard Killmer, moving prisoners from one location to the other is not of value in itself. Rather, the United States must close Guantánamo as a symbol of its moral stance against inhumane detention. “The religious community has said from the beginning: Even if torture was efficacious, it would still be wrong because we believe human beings deserve to be treated with honor and respect,” Killmer told Sojourners.

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Sojourners Magazine March 2010
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