Close Guantanamo Bay


          I warmed to President Obama when as a candidate he pledged to shut down this US prison.

          I thought the US and the Uk fought for liberty, for the right of everyone under suspicion  to a fair trial, for habeas corpus.

           The men in this prison should either be charged and tried, or let go. Guantanamo is incompatible with our ideals of liberty and democracy.


  1. margaret brandreth-j
    April 30, 2013

    There is nothing so life destroying as injustice. I totally agree. Persecution for the sake of charging someone somewhere to quieten others is deplorable. I also fear that trying to get a firm conviction would be easier than to let these people go with a clean slate. Once the more powerful decide on a judgement which is wrong ,their own face means more than justice.

    1. Hope
      April 30, 2013

      So what about acting beyond the remit of the UN resolution by effecting regime change in Lybia? Cameron has not answered the question: what support the UK gave in the assisination of Gaddaffi. Deplorable man, but he deserved the rights of law and justice that Cameron prattles on about.

  2. Elliot Kane
    April 30, 2013

    Emphatically agree, John.

    The very existence of this horrendous place is a scar on the face of American honour, and a shame to her allies. It needs to be closed down.

  3. Denis Cooper
    April 30, 2013

    Unfortunately this is the kind of thing that can happen when the people of a country have succeeded in establishing laws to protect their rights and liberties within their homeland, but the laws do not extend to overseas territorities under the control of its government.

    So for example the 1688 English Bill of Rights, the core of which is still on the statute book:

    had among the list of grievances:

    “Excessive Bail.

    And excessive Baile hath beene required of Persons committed in Criminall Cases to elude the Benefitt of the Lawes made for the Liberty of the Subjects.


    And excessive Fines have beene imposed.


    And illegall and cruell Punishments inflicted.

    Grants of Fines, &c. before Conviction, &c.

    And severall Grants and Promises made of Fines and Forfeitures before any Conviction or Judgement against the Persons upon whome the same were to be levyed. All which are utterly directly contrary to the knowne Lawes and Statutes and Freedome of this Realme.”

    And asserted:

    “That excessive Baile ought not to be required nor excessive Fines imposed nor cruell and unusuall Punishments inflicted.”


    “That all Grants and Promises of Fines and Forfeitures of particular persons before Conviction are illegall and void.”

    But that only applied within “this Realme”, not to other territorities, and so it did not prevent the perpetration of many appalling abuses in overseas colonies.

  4. Jerry
    April 30, 2013

    Can’t see you getting any descenting voices John on this one – Guantanamo is and has always been a recruitment Sargent against the “West”…

    1. Max Dunbar
      April 30, 2013

      Its “dissenting” not “descenting”. Sorry to be pedantic but the words have entirely different meanings Jerry.
      Also “sergeant” not “sargent”

  5. Atlas
    April 30, 2013

    Agreed John.

  6. grassmarket
    April 30, 2013

    No, they are prisoners of war. They stay in Guantanamo until either Al Qaeda surrenders or we do. It’s easy to take an enlightened view of terrorism when you work in a building surrounded by hundreds of armed guards.

    Reply I work a lot from home which has no armed guards. I survived terrorist attacks from the IRA at Brighton and in London. Your criticism is wide of the mark.

    1. zorro
      April 30, 2013

      They are classed as ‘enemy combatants’…..I was in the US the other week during the Boston Bombing event, and there were endless discussions about whether to grant the suspect his ‘Miranda’ rights so he could ‘lawyer up’ or whether he should be treated as an ‘enemy combatant’.

      However, one shouldn’t be surprised that they still have Gitmo open when they are launching drone strikes into foreign territory (not at war) and killing people who they claim are plotting terror…….and, of course, killing innocent children at the same time. Of course, they call that collateral damage in a war situation, except that they haven’t declared war against anyone, only the ‘War on Terror’.

      Iti is a stain against any idea of justice if you view it from any normal eyes…….but then think again, perhaps the US may be using the extended incarceration to ‘brainwash’ or ‘turn’ these people…..I wonder how many people who were previously in Gitmo are now in the ‘Al Qaeda (TM)’ forces running riot in Syria?


    2. Electro-Kevin
      April 30, 2013

      Grassmarket – It’s a dangerous world out there. I can see the need for you to use a pseudonym.

      I use one too. The Taliban are EVERYWHERE.

      (My real name isn’t Kevin – I’m sure you guessed that already)

    3. Jerry
      April 30, 2013

      @grassmarket: It’s also very easy to criticise when one doesn’t have the first clue, try actually reading John’s blog rather than just the headline! 🙁

    4. forthurst
      April 30, 2013

      “No, they are prisoners of war. They stay in Guantanamo until either Al Qaeda surrenders or we do.”

      Would that be the same al qaeda that we are currently arming and training as ‘rebels’ to overthrow Assad in Syria? Perhaps they could be released from Guantanamo on condition they enlist in the ‘rebel’ army in Syria being used to terrorise civilians there, as the ‘West’ does daily elsewhere, using the more sophisticated means of drones and helicopter gunships?

      The ‘War on Terror’ has no end because there is no real enemy on which either to declare war or negotiate peace; it is a total fabrication to enable the neocons to cause endless trouble in the world; (words left out ed)
      What we need to do is stop abetting neocon troublemaking which means getting rid of Cameron and his troublesome loyalties for a start.

      1. zorro
        May 1, 2013

        I was obviously tuning into your wavelength at the same time yesterday! 🙂


  7. Paul
    April 30, 2013

    ” The men in this prison should either be charged and tried, or let go. ”

    Er, do you mean like Teresa May’s best mate Abu Qatada?

    trepyl The government wants him to be tried!

  8. Roy Grainger
    April 30, 2013

    Same for Abu Qatada then ? Charge him and try him or let him go about his business like any UK citizen without any further harrassment and monitoring by the state eh ?

    Reply: No, extradite him to stand trial in Jordan.

  9. Roy Grainger
    April 30, 2013

    Obama gave an explicit pledge to shut Guantanamo. So, why do you think he didn’t ? The answer is probably the intelligence data that he was shown that we haven’t seen, if it could change his mind I’m sure it could change the minds of most posters here.

    1. lifelogic
      May 1, 2013

      It would not change my mind whatever they said. It is counterproductive to keep it open, alternatives are needed. Anyway is Obama not just blaming it on the republicans preventing him?

    2. Rob T
      May 1, 2013

      I thought congress shot down the motion to close it, and now he is looking to go back to congress for another pop.

      In the eyes of most reasonable people, America cannot claim to occupy any moral high ground whilst holding people indefinitely, without charge, under torture & force-feeding, whilst at the same time conducting extra-judicial exectutions by drone strike – and these signed off by POTUS every Tuesday morning.

    3. Collamore
      May 4, 2013

      “Obama gave an explicit pledge to shut Guantanamo. So, why do you think he didn’t ? ”
      Because Obama is a liar. All of his “pledges” have a short shelf life, beginning with his pledge to the voters of Illinois not to run for president in 2008.

  10. Old Albion
    April 30, 2013

    The moment they release those at Guantanamo the compensation claims will start to fly. It will cost millions.
    Probably why they aren’t being released ?

  11. lifelogic
    April 30, 2013

    Indeed a total and counter productive disaster. Totally incompatible with our ideals of liberty and democracy.

    But then talking about liberty, the right to a fair trial and habeas corpus.what about in the UK the case of Wanda Maddocks. A middle-aged woman sentenced in her absence to five months in prison for removing her aged father from a care home where he had been placed against his family’s wishes by Stoke-on-Trent social workers. And the many other cases highlighted by Booker and other in the family courts.

    Meanwhile GBH and violent criminals get let off with just a piece of paper, no criminal record and a bit of compensation for the victim if they agree – to save on court costs ones assumes. Unless of course they decide to have another go or ten later – given that they got off so lightly the first time they were caught.

  12. Credible
    April 30, 2013


  13. Mike Wilson
    April 30, 2013

    Whilst agreeing that Guantanomo is an affront to the principles we claim to espouse … I’d be even more keen to see it shut if the government actually DID something to protect us from terrorism.

    Not getting involved in wars and countries that don’t concern us would be a start. Having the balls to kick Abu Qutada and his ilk out – summarily – would be a good next move. And having real immigration controls would be even better. And zero tolerance of home grown terrorist propaganda and brain washing should be introduced.

    Instead we have a succession of wishy-washy liberal twerps in government which means we have to have places like Guantanamo Bay.

  14. Andy Baxter
    April 30, 2013

    The fundamental underlying principle being tested here is:

    The Rule of Law

    under such constitutions as the USA and our own. The fundamental principle of The Rule of Law is underpinned by Governed by consent and Policed by consent allied to ‘presumption of innocence’ and fair trial by ones peers if accused of unlawful or illegal behaviour

    Don’t forget the 13 colonies when they declared their independence from Great Britain codified their constitution on our historic constitutional documents such as Magna Carta, Habeus Corpus, Petition of Right and Bill of Rights.

    unlike our own constitution which is ‘flexible’ theirs is ‘rigid’ simply because it is written down.

    the semantics involved to deliver political expediency and abject failure of political responsibiblity for dealing with these people by its location and the semantics of calling them ‘combatants’ is disgraceful and totally unconstitutional under the rule of law.

    The US congress did not formally declare war on Afghanistan the US president (Bush) used an executive order for military action.

    As much as loathe terrorism and its perpetrators I still believe in the Rule of Law; therefore these people should be formally charged with evidence tested in a court of law and if found guilty punished to the maximum level of the law or where no evidence exists to charge then they should be released back to where they were taken from.

    To held in captivity under what appear to be quite torturous and degrading conditions irrespective of what the US authorities ‘think’ or ‘know’ they were responsible for is an utter disgrace and I think gives an insight to what the US govt could and possibly would do to its own citizens under FEMA (google and youtibe it folks) if given the chance to counter dissent.

    1. uanime5
      May 1, 2013

      I believe that the USA claims that since Guantanamo is in Cuba the US constitution doesn’t apply to it because the constitution only applies to the USA. Oddly Cuban law also doesn’t apply to Guantanamo either because it’s a US military base.

  15. Brian Tomkinson
    April 30, 2013

    Only Obama could get away with such flagrant reneging on this policy. The media love him, as do too many of our MPs, and so he can break his pledge with impunity.

    1. Jerry
      April 30, 2013

      @Brian Tomkinson: Perhaps if Obama had been given a little bit of support from the right-wing (never mind FoxNews…) in the USA, rather than constant scare stories about the risks of holding both proper trials and having these prisoners on the US mainland, he might have been able to close this place in his first term, perhaps even his first 100 days. Sorry but you are blaming the wrong person/party.

    2. lifelogic
      May 1, 2013

      Unlike Cameron, Osborne and Clegg.

  16. Edward2
    April 30, 2013

    I agree that this camp should be closed as President Obama once promised.
    Those within it should be set free or charged. Let a jury hear the evidence against them, however flimsy that may be and come to a decision.
    However it highlights the big problem for the UK, USA and other Western democracies faced with terrorism, which is that our legal systems are based on reacting after a crime has been committed.
    How do you deal with people who are expected to carry out dastardly acts that could randomly kill thousands of innocent people, but have not yet done so.
    Should you lock them up early just on suspicion, like we did Italians living here in the second world war and America did with Japanese people after Pearl Harbour?
    I do believe that despite arguments made against Guantanamo, which I agree with, many lives have been saved by having these people locked away unable to become combatants again.

    Reply Parliament has thought of that! We have made it a crime to conspire to be a terrorist, so people can be prosecuted for planning an attack.

    1. zorro
      May 1, 2013

      Reply to reply – Absolutely, the authorities have access to sophisticated techniques to record potential evidence of conspiracy to commit dangerous acts and should ensure that there is no spurious bar to usage of said evidence in court. If there are proper conspiracies they should be prosecuted. I am more wary of the clownish attempts which seem to have been given succour by some agencies in USA, using clearly damaged individuals to supposedly ‘plot’ atrocities whilst being supplied b y undercover agents. We need to be concentrating on real dangers who have a high capability of doing us harm.


  17. Acorn
    April 30, 2013

    I don’nt know if you are a member of the APPG on Extraordinary Rendition (ER) or if it has an affect on the matter. I don’t think they have found the UK equivalent of Gitmo. But you need military covert extra judicial systems for ER to supply the house guests for Gitmo.

    The US neo-cons have pulled every trick in the congressional book to keep Gitmo going; even circumventing US Supreme Court decisions on the applicability of the Geneva Convention.

    The US had a missile crisis with communist Cuba, stopped people traveling to-and-fro Cuba. Strangely the US does not see the rank hypocrisy of having a military base in Cuba. Not that many US citizens actually know where Gitmo is. I don’t think it will be closed anytime soon JR.

  18. Electro-Kevin
    April 30, 2013

    Guantanamo – If it was right it wouldn’t need to be there.

    1. Electro-Kevin
      May 1, 2013

      Meaning that it isn’t on the US mainland because it’s wrong.

  19. Daedalus
    April 30, 2013



  20. Jon
    April 30, 2013

    We weaken our mandate for democracy and the rule of law if we have corners where we ignore it. If its thought that the law is inadequate in an area then seek to amend it through the democratic process.
    We need to believe in our institution or constitution, in the US it just looks like the authorities don’t believe in their own constitution.

  21. Simon Jones
    April 30, 2013

    I agree that Guantanamo Bay should be closed down. Obama should be stripped on his Nobel Peace Prize because of the way people are detained and treated there.

    1. Jerry
      April 30, 2013

      @Simon Jones: “Obama should be stripped on his Nobel Peace Prize because of the way people are detained and treated there.

      Oh I see, yes lets strip the Obama of his international credibility even though he is the person who closes the place -in the face of right-wing political opposition within the USA- yet still dote on the man who allowed the place to be used and run like that in the first place – no doubt, just because his politics agrees with your own…

      1. Simon Jones
        April 30, 2013


        Obama has tarnished the spirit of the Nobel prize. That has nothing to do with Bush who was just as bad with respect to Guantanamo.

        1. lifelogic
          May 1, 2013

          With Obama, the EU, Sinn Féin, Al Gore …………… how can anyone take the Nobel price seriously – except perhaps for the physics, science, medicine and similar.

          Not the economics sometimes either.

        2. Jerry
          May 1, 2013

          @Simon Jones: The founder of the Nobel Peace prize tarnished the spirit of his own foundation by inventing Ballistite (and then making a fortune from it, that helped found the said foundation), Obama has done more for peace than many others who have been awarded a Nobel prize, or even the founder – so, your point was what exactly, other than a rant against someone you don’t seem to like politically?…

          1. zorro
            May 1, 2013

            ‘The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to U.S. President Barack Obama “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced the award on October 9, 2009, citing Obama’s promotion of nuclear nonproliferation and a “new climate” in international relations fostered by Obama, especially in reaching out to the Muslim world.’

            Well, at least that was the justification for granting the prize……At least Obama said he was ‘surprised’ and ‘deeply humbled’…….His weekly approved drone strikes are certainly spreading a ‘new climate’ in international relations in reaching out to the Muslim world…..


  22. StevenL
    April 30, 2013

    Weren’t they by and large non-Afghans, picked up in Afghanistan around the start of the war? (words left out-ed) Would your constituents be happy to house them all in Wokingham?

  23. Wise silly old man
    April 30, 2013

    I lost my son in Ireland. Fighting for our safety. Now legitimate. God it hurts. I have my daughter 16 at the time, I saw what it did did to my wife now gone and years later i see my daughters pain when we send our soldiers into wars just like Ireland their not allowed to win.
    Brigton must of been hell, but think of Ireland, Afghanistan, Iraq Falklands, aldershot bombing, the whimpy bars in london. And so on
    Release or try them but if they mean us harm. Need I say more. G Bay is evil just like H blocks but does it protect us. We need to protect ourselves
    You won’t publish this.

  24. zorro
    April 30, 2013

    Was there something wrong with my post?


  25. Max Dunbar
    April 30, 2013

    We hear a lot about Guantanamo. How does it compare with other American prisons? How many far worse prisons do we never hear about simply because nobody cares or is interested. At least the inmates at Guantanamo probably have some hope. That is very important to a prisoner.

    Reply THe point is none of them have been found guilty and sentenced.

    1. Max Dunbar
      May 1, 2013

      Let me put it this way; if the State want you banged -up you will be arrested and imprisoned, possibly indefinitely and for any number of spurious reasons. Perhaps the Americans are more honest in this instance. There do not appear to be any show trials or farcical courts that I have heard of.
      And it can happen here. It happened to me. Thankfully I was released eventually with no criminal conviction. The police later admitted that there had been a “breakdown of communication” on their side.

  26. they work for us
    April 30, 2013

    Guantanamo Bay is an affront to civilized behaviour providing you live in an ivory tower and are unlikely to be affected by the consequences of releasing the inmates.

    All these inmates should to be returned to their country of origin irrespective of their potential fate there. Any citizen of a State is the responsibility of that state to look after. Under Blair we took back those that were UK citizens but were foolish to take back non UK citizens under the guide that they were “UK residents”.
    Non UK citizens at Guantanamo are somebody else’s problem and it is high time we accepted this and realised that we don’t have the capacity to solve everyone else’s problems.

    Hunger strikes are an emotive issue. On the one hand it is the protest of last resort by the prisoner against the conditions real or perceived that he finds himself in.
    On the other hand it is a calculated self inflicted device that hopes that the authorities will “blink first” and give in. It is a more sinister form of the child saying “I’ll cry and I’ll cry until I make myself sick and then see where you will be”.

  27. Gary
    May 1, 2013

    The military industrial complex, like QE, once you go down that path, there is no turning back. Govt is destroying us, and it can’t stop until the job is completed.

    1. zorro
      May 1, 2013

      So sayeth ‘Ike’…….


  28. Leslie Singleton
    May 1, 2013

    So you, John, are suddenly and somehow made US President and (as was clearly the case) you become totally convinced that many of the people in Guantanamo Bay are likely if let loose to kill thousands of Americans, you just let them free?? For me the answer would be No. I have no great belief in ‘Innocence till proven guilty’. Instead what, especially someone like the POTUS, should be trying to do is minimise the damage to people who are just going about their daily lives so that overall the maximum number of lives are saved. Protecting the innocent in Court might have made a lot more sense once but in these high tech and high explosive days when just one or two people can kill an enormous number on their own I do not see it. It’s a difficult and very big responsibility no doubt, but looked at like that I do not see much choice and there are not that many people kept in Guantanamo Bay, most of whom are in any event much closer to enemy combatants than anything else, POW’s in other words. Proving something in Court in some of these cases is obviously going to be impossible and then there are the people who get off merely on technicalities. The risk these people pose has clearly been judged too fearsome for your Utopian and idealistic views.

    Reply I woulod send foreigners back to their own countries, I would prosecute anyone where there was evidence of possible terrorist intent, and keep monitoring anyone else where there were suspicions, once released.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      May 1, 2013

      Reply to Reply–But 1) As with the latest very well known case, you probably would not be allowed to deport them–“family rights” and all that crazy Human Rights stuff would be deemed overriding 2) Prosecutions (concerning events in Afghanistan in a military theatre most like) are going to fail in Court because in the case of these potentially extremely dangerous men, some of whom consider themselves to be at war with us, we have no ability to try to redress the balance in our favour a bit by relaxing strict rules of evidence and procedure and 3) Especially after the commentary on the Boston bombing, where the FBI were au fait, monitoring people only achieves so much (meaning very little) partly because, again, how could one do something about mere “suspicions” in Court or anywhere else these days?

  29. Lindsay McDougall
    May 1, 2013

    Absolutely. But let’s have a full plan. Send the inmates to which countries, based on what principles?

  30. muddyman
    May 1, 2013

    Having decided that you are the Worlds greatest nation and the controller of all , this gives you the right to treat others in any way you wish – does it not?.

  31. uanime5
    May 1, 2013

    The main problem with Guantanamo Bay is what happens to the people in it. The USA doesn’t want these inmate but if their home country also doesn’t want these people then where do they go?

    1. zorro
      May 1, 2013

      Their home countries HAVE to accept them as their own nationals, just we have to take back recalcitrant Brits……Typical uanime5…..line of least (or no) resistance….


  32. Collamore
    May 4, 2013

    The fact is, Gitmo-style “internment” is a practice as old as war itself. And done many times by the UK, including under Winston Churchill. During World War I, Britain interned some 30,000 German nationals, most of whom had been long-term residents. In May 1940, under the threat of imminent invasion, the British government interned some 28,000 Germans and Austrians.
    The U.S., Canada and Australia did the same in World Wars I and II.
    Gitmo is merely a continuation of that practice. In fact, the prior internments cast the dragnet much wider than Gitmo. And Churchill, for one, found this wider internment acceptable.

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