NEW YORK - JULY 27 - In response to the Pentagon-commissioned report on Guantánamo detainees, the Center for Constitutional Rights Executive Director Vince Warren issued the following statement:
To the rest of the world, Guantánamo is a symbol of overreaching presidential abuse of power, of arrogance, hypocrisy, lawlessness, and torture. To the Bush administration, it is merely a public relations disaster and, as such, it must be fixed, not by providing fair hearings to the detainees and ensuring that due process and the laws of the land are respected, but by mounting a vigorous and well-orchestrated PR campaign in response. One of the most damning documents on Guantánamo to be produced is known as the Seton Hall report and showed, analyzing the government’s own documents, that 92 percent of the people at Guantánamo were not Al Qaeda fighters and that 55 percent had been found by the military to not have committed any hostile act against the U.S. or our allies.
The Center for Constitutional Rights has represented the detainees at Guantánamo from the very beginning. We have visited men driven to despair with less and less faith that they would ever see justice, men who were turned over for enormous bounties to the U.S. because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or men who were fleeing the conflict, or men who were cooks, goatherders and other minor actors swept up and locked away, now lost to their families and branded terrorists forever. At most, five percent of the men at Guantánamo were captured by U.S. forces. In five years, only ten people out of 786 at Guantánamo have ever been charged with a crime; only one ever went before a Military Commission, and not a single one is currently charged.
Not content to mount attacks on op-ed pages around the country on attorneys for representing their clients pro bono and not content to repeat their rosy descriptions of the privileges afforded a handful of detainees as though that in any way represented the conditions of most of the detainees who are locked up in solitary confinement 23 hours a day, rarely see sunlight yet always have the lights on in their cells, continue to be subjected to temperature extremes, sleep deprivation and brutal force-feeding when they choose the only form of non-violent protest of their conditions available to them by denying sustenance, the government commissioned a report that would massage the statistics and re-categorize the data so that they could try to convince the world that the people they had been keeping locked up indefinitely for more than five years really were, as they claimed at the start, “the worst of the worst.”
The authors of the Seton Hall report have issued a direct rebuttal to the incorrect facts and misinterpretations of the Pentagon-commissioned study. They point to the new report’s assertion that anyone who has traveled to three or more countries is to be considered a threat even though the Department of Defense has never claimed such a thing, among other new categorizations it used to manipulate the data. Previous documents show the government considering anyone with a Casio watch to be considered a threat because its mechanism can be used to activate an explosive device. There have been several cases of detainees found not to be enemy combatants who were put through multiple additional tribunals until the government got the enemy combatant designation is sought. The most important fact of all, though, is that no process this administration has invented is a substitute for the most fundamental right in the world, the right to contest your detention in a court of law.
The Supreme Court reversed itself for the first time in 60 years last month and decided to hear the case of the Guantánamo detainees for a third time in their next session. The Center for Constitutional Rights will present the case with our co-counsel that the law of the land applies not just to a few and is necessary not only for justice to be served but for us to continue to exist as the democracy envisioned by our founders. We fully expect the Bush administration to put all its energies into its PR campaign rather than into upholding the law. We know the world will see through its efforts.
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is a non-profit legal
and educational organization dedicated to protecting and advancing
the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil
rights demonstrators in the South, CCR is committed to the creative
use of law as a positive force for social change."