Of the 136 men still held at Guantánamo Bay, 64 were cleared to leave in January 2010 by an inter-agency task force established by President Obama. 55 of these men are Yemenis. In a major speech on national security on May 23, 2013, President Obama promised to begin releasing these prisoners and lifted a ban on releasing Yemenis that he imposed after a failed bomb plot hatched in Yemen in December 2009. He also promised to appoint two senior officials to deal specifically with transfers from Guantánamo -- one at the State Department, and one in the Pentagon.
President Obama has appointed both envoys -- Cliff Sloan at the State Department, and Paul Lewis in the Pentagon -- and he has, to date, only released 30 prisoners: five Algerians, two Saudis and one Sudanese man cleared for release since January 2010, another Sudanese man who agreed to a plea deal in his trial by military commission in 2011, three Uighurs (Muslims from China's oppressed Xinjiang province), whose release was ordered by a U.S. judge in 2008, and five Afghans, Taliban officials released in Qatar in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the sole U.S. prisoner of war in Afghanistan. One other man, a Kuwaiti, was released in November 2014. Also in November, four Yemenis and a Tunisian were given new homes in Georgia and Slovakia, and a Saudi was repatriated. In December 2014, six men -- four Syrians, a Palestinian and a Tunisian -- were given new homes in Uruguay.
We call on President Obama to continue releasing cleared prisoners, as a matter of urgency, and we also call on him to review the cases of the other prisoners still held, and to put them on trial or release them. President Obama designated 46 of them for indefinite detention without charge or trial in an executive order in March 2011, when he also promised that there would be periodic reviews of their cases. These reviews finally began in November 2013, and in January 2014 the first prisoner to have his case reviewed -- a Yemeni -- was approved for release, joining the 75 others cleared for release by the task force in January 2010. In April, a second Yemeni had his release recommended by a PRB, and in May a third man joined them. In July, a fourth man, a Kuwaiti, also had his release recommended and in October a fifth man, a Saudi, was also recommended for release. The Kuwaiti released in November 2014 was the first of these men to be transferred out of Guantánamo and the Saudi released in November was the second.
Of the 67 men cleared for release, 54 are Yemenis. Only four Yemenis have been released since President Obama made his speech last May. He needs to take action to release the others immediately; otherwise, being cleared for release means nothing.
Call the White House and ask President Obama to release all the men cleared for release, and to make sure that reviews for the other men are fair and objective. Call 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414 or submit a comment online.
Call the Department of Defense and ask Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to issue certifications for other cleared prisoners: 703-571-3343.
Please also feel free to write to the prisoners at Guantánamo.