WASHINGTON -- February 2 -- The Senate is expected to debate the nomination of Alberto Gonzales for attorney general until Thursday, a nominee that lawyers at the Center for Constitutional Rights describe as one of the architects of Guantánamo as well as the torture and abuse of detainees.
U.S. District Court Judge Joyce Green on Monday ruled that special military tribunals used by the Pentagon to determine so-called enemy combatant status and the continued detention of those detained at Guantánamo Bay are illegal. (For background on the ruling and the role of the Center for Constitutional Rights in the case, see below.)
The following legal analysts from the Center for Constitutional Rights can address the Gonzales nomination in addition to the Guantánamo ruling.
BARBARA OLSHANSKY, email@example.com, www.ccr-ny.org
Deputy legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and author of the book Secret Trials and Executions, Olshansky said today: Judge Green has sent a hopeful message to the world that despite the administration's continued refusal to acknowledge the unlawfulness of its behavior, our democratic institutions are working hard to ensure justice is preserved. Our courts are alive and working to put this country's actions back in line with the humanitarian principles that are the foundation of modern civilized society and the backbone of the cooperative relationship among the world's community of nations."
RACHEL MEEROPOL, www.sevenstories.com/Book/index.cfm?GCOI=58322100617850
Staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, Meeropol is one of the contributors to the book America's Disappeared: Secret Imprisonment, Detainees, and the 'War on Terror.'
MICHAEL RATNER, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.humanrightsnow.org
President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Ratner is co-author of the book Guantánamo: What the World Should Know. He said today: Judge Greens decision is extraordinary. It reaffirms that the Guantánamo detainees cannot be imprisoned outside the law, that they have a constitutional right to a fair hearing and that evidence resulting from torture and coercion cannot be used to continue their imprisonments. The judge also found that it was illegal for the president to unilaterally determine that an entire group of the Guantánamo prisoners were not POWs protected by the Geneva conventions. This ruling has the potential to bring the U.S. back into the fold of nations under law. It is about time.
Ratner stated: "Alberto Gonzales cannot be separated from the utter illegality of Guantanamo. Guantanamo is where torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment began; it began because Gonzales said it could by denying the protections of Geneva and the Convention Against Torture that required humane treatment of detainees. Stress positions, stripping, hooding, sexual humiliation is considered cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, if not torture. Gonzales still insists that non-citizens outside the United States can be treated inhumanely. The Senate is about to confirm a man who has his hands deep in the blood of the conspiracy of torture in this country. Anybody who votes for him, knowing what they now know, could conceivably, if trials such as those at Nuremberg ever initiated, be tried as part of a conspiracy to commit torture and other human rights abuses."
[Background:] Judge Joyce Green also ruled that evidence resulting from coercion and torture could be challenged and that a number of the detainees should be treated as POWs. The Center for Constitutional Rights and associated counsel filed the habeas petitions before Judge Green. The group also won the Supreme Court case Rasul v. Bush and has condemned the administration for failing to comply with the decision and give the Guantánamo detainees the chance to challenge their detentions in federal court.