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Former Gitmo Prosecutor Urges Obama to Close Shadowy Military Prison

Prosecutor’s petition gains over 145,000 signatures in one week

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Guantanamo's former chief military prosecutor Colonel Morris Davis is urging President Barack Obama to end indefinite detention and close Guantanamo.

Protester at a rally in New York's Times Square on April 11 to demand the closure of the Guantanamo facility. (AFP) "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," Davis states on the web page of a petition he started last week, calling for Guantanamo's closure.

"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."

"The Patriotic thing, the American thing, the Human thing to do here is to Close Guantanamo," says Colonel Morris Davis

Davis created the petition amid an ongoing hunger strike in the detention center, which has entered its forth month and includes almost all of the detainees. The hunger strike has sparked renewed international attention to the plight of the prisoners' indefinite detention and the practice of force-feeding the prisoners on strike—an act considered by many to be a form of torture.

Agence France-Press reports:

As Guantanamo's top military prosecutor, Davis recalled that he himself charged the only three former inmates to be found guilty of war crimes and sent home to their countries.

That is just three of the 779 prisoners held at the US prison over the past 11 years.

Over half, 86, of the prisoners that remain have been cleared for release. Half of the other 80 cannot be tried due to a lack of evidence.

"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," Davis states.

"Obama announced on April 30 that he plans to do his part to close Guantanamo," Davis adds, "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."

Obama stated last week that he would still like to close Gitmo—blaming Congress for blockading his yet-to-be-fulfilled promise. However, as Davis and multiple rights groups have pointed out, Obama does in fact have the ability as President to take certain steps that would free most, if not all, of the prisoners from the indefinite detention (and human rights abuses) at the military prison.

Davis's petition states:

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.

Read the rest of the petition here.

The petition gained 117,000 signatures in 48 hours and is currently up to over 145,000.

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