WASHINGTON, DC — Attendees at a protest Thursday expressed frustration over former U.S. President Barack Obama’s failure to close the Guantánamo Bay prison, which he promised to do on the first day of his presidency.
The protesters also denounced President Donald Trump. An imam calling for Gitmo, as the facility is commonly known, to be shut down also urged authorities to detain U.S. President Donald Trump in a similar facility for refusing to give into the demonstrator’s demands.
Many demonstrators placed the blame on the fairly new U.S. President Donald Trump for keeping the detention center, ignoring his predecessor’s eight years in power, including a time when Democrats held a super majority.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) organized the protest with the Justice for Muslims Collective. The event took place in front of the White House to mark the 16th anniversary of the first jihadists transferred to Gitmo.
“Let us rename this horrendous place that it’s just smearing to all humanity, which is an affront to all humanity, let’s rename it ‘Trump Tower,’” Imam Khalid Griggs from the terrorism-linked Islamic Circle of North of America (ICNA) declared during the rally Thursday, referring to Gitmo.
He went on to call for the imprisonment of President Trump at a Gitmo-like facility.
“I refuse to really call him by his name until he becomes an occupant in a facility like the one we are protesting here today,” he added, alluding to Trump.
Despite the imam’s condemnations against the U.S. president during the protest in front of the White House, Breitbart News spoke to several other demonstrators who indicated that they were let down by Obama’s failure to liberate all Guantánamo prisoners and close the facility down.
Thursday’s demonstration came less than a month after the Trump administration reportedly indicated it may consider whether to release detainees still held at the Guantánamo facility “on a case-by-case basis,” adding that he detention center will “remain an available option in the war on terrorism.”
While some protesters expressed anger towards Trump’s alleged intentions to keep the facility running, others conceded that part of the blame for why the prison remains in operation falls on former President Obama.
Activist Martin Gugino from Buffalo, N.Y., told Breitbart News he was “disappointed” Obama did not bring the Guantanamo prison operation to an end.
“It should’ve been closed by Obama. It wasn’t closed by Bush. It needs to end,” he declared.
“I think it was very disappointing,” Paki Wieland, a Code Pink activist, also told Breitbart News, referring to Obama’s broken promise to shut down Gitmo.
Meanwhile, some members from the Witness Against Torture group suggested former President Obama, who assumed office with a super-majority in Congress, could have used his firm “political capital” to end Gitmo operations but opted to focus on other issues.
“We’re shocked, appalled, and deeply disappointed, deeply saddened, and heartbroken that President Obama failed to live up to his promise to close down Guantanamo,” Lu Aya from Witness Against Torture, told Breitbart News. “If he had taken a stronger stand he would have succeeded because he is the commander in chief.”
Asked if Obama misled his supporters when he vowed to close the Guantánamo detention center, Varon told Breitbart News: “Absolutely. His promise his first day in office was to close Guantánamo — a major goal that wasn’t achieved and partly Congress was to blame.”
Breitbart News spoke to several demonstrators who indicated that they were let down by Obama’s failure to liberate all Guantanamo prisoners and close the facility down.
However, some demonstrators also blamed Congress for blocking Obama’s efforts to close the facility.
President Obama himself signed into law a bill that prevented him from carrying out his proposal to close down the facility.
The former president did manage to reduce the prison population from 242 detainees held at the time he took office in early 2009 to 41 now, more than half of whom the U.S. government has deemed “forever prisoners,” or too dangerous to release.
Although the Cuba-based prison houses 26 “forever prisons” – including the mastermind behind 9/11 attacks on the American homeland, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) – the protesters demanded that the American government close it down.
Wieland from Code Pink went as far as suggesting the death penalty should be taken off the table for the organizers of the 9/11 attacks.
“I would advocate that because of the extensive evidence of how the 9/11 suspects were tortured the government must abandon its efforts to win a death sentence,” she said.
Meanwhile, Varon claimed, “There’s only a tiny handful of people who are worthy of incarceration.”
The Associated Press (AP) recently noted that the “forever prisoners” could ultimately “be reviewed and added to the cleared list” under Trump.
Meanwhile, U.S. military commissions have charged the remaining ten, which includes some terrorists who are awaiting a death penalty tribunal for their alleged role in the 9/11 attacks on the American homeland.
Penny Starr contributed to this report.