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Protesters demonstrate against Guantanamo Bay in front of the Supreme Court on January 11, 2017

Protesters demonstrated against Guantanamo Bay in front of the Supreme Court on Wednesday. (Photo: Naureen Shah/Twitter)

'Deny Trump the Tools to Torture': Progressive Dems Call on Obama to Close Guantanamo

'Mr. Trump must be deprived of the use of Guantanamo Bay.'

Nika Knight Beauchamp

As pro-torture President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) are urging President Barack Obama to immediately shut down Guantanamo Bay and deny Trump "the tools to reinstate torture."

In a letter (pdf) sent Wednesday, 40 members of the CPC, including Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D.-Calif.), called on Obama to "definitively close the site by rapidly pursuing any and all options within your existing authority to seek lawful disposition of all of the 55 remaining individuals languishing in the camp."

The letter describes Trump's frightening rhetoric on torture:

As you know, Mr. Trump routinely issued disturbing pronouncements throughout his campaign, promising that he "would absolutely authorize something beyond waterboarding," which he considered a "minimal form of torture." He argued, "We're going to have to do things that are unthinkable, almost." Mr. Trump also vowed to keep the Guantanamo Bay detention camp open and "load it up with some bad dudes."

Trump has also said that when he takes office, the government will cease all transfers of detainees out of Guantanamo. About 40 detainees will remain once he is inaugurated, as Common Dreams reported. Most detainees have not been charged or tried of any crimes.

"Mr. Trump must be deprived of the use of Guantanamo Bay," the letter says.

The letter also calls for the "immediate dissemination" of the Senate torture report's findings among federal agencies.

"Immediately disseminating the Senate torture report and circulating new guidelines will immunize these agencies from executing potentially unlawful directives on behalf of the executive branch in the future," it argues.

Obama in December decided to archive the torture report, which means it will be withheld from the public for 12 years.

The CPC's letter was issued on the 15th anniversary of Guantanamo Bay's founding, an anniversary marked with with demonstrations in Washington, D.C. and London calling for an end to torture.

"Because President Obama failed to fulfill his campaign promise, Guantánamo enters its 16th year of operation today," said Aliyah Hussain, advocacy program manager with the Center for Constitutional Rights, which took part in the D.C. demonstration. "The future of the prison and the fate of the remaining men is as perilous as ever."

"We are gathering in Washington, D.C. to bear witness to the suffering of our clients at Guantánamo, and to stand in solidarity with those throughout the world who are committed to seeing Guantánamo close and reject the use of torture under any circumstances," Hussain said.

Twelve people were arrested at the protest in D.C., according to teleSUR:

"For far too long, the indefinite detentions at Guantanamo Bay have undermined our fundamental values and threatened our national security," Lee added in a separate statement sent to the D.C. protesters Wednesday. "Continued reliance on this facility, in violation of international law, is a stain on our international reputation and a danger to our security."

"President Obama has shown strong leadership in the face of unprecedented obstructionism to close this facility," Lee argued. "In the final days of his administration, I urge President Obama to pursue every option at his disposal to close Guantanamo Bay once and for all. Given the very real threat that the Trump Administration will resume the barbaric forced interrogation practices utilized in the Bush-era, we must act now to bring an end to this dark chapter in American history."

As the CPC's letter concludes: "The moral imperative to avert the potentially disastrous consequences of Mr. Trump's objectives could not be clearer."


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