Of the 149 men still held at Guantánamo Bay, 75 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 -- but he has, to date, only released 17 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. But we call on him 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.
Of the 78 men cleared for release, 58 are Yemenis, but none have been released since President Obama made his speech last May. He needs to release them 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.