Senate Questions Indefinite Detention Without Charge

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Mandy Simon, (202) 675-2312; media@dcaclu.org

Senate Questions Indefinite Detention Without Charge

Senator Feingold Holds Hearing To Discuss Legality And Morality Surrounding Detention

WASHINGTON - A
hearing today held by a Senate subcommittee explored the legal and
moral questions surrounding the continued use of indefinite detention
for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay. In a speech given two weeks
ago, President Obama signaled new laws could be needed to indefinitely
hold Guantanamo detainees without charge or trial. The Senate Judiciary
Subcommittee on the Constitution heard testimony on the topic today
from legal scholars and human rights advocates.

 
“The
ability to challenge one’s imprisonment is so basic a human and
democratic right that it is hard to believe that any American would be
advocating for anything less,” said Christopher Anders, American Civil
Liberties Union Senior Legislative Counsel. “President Obama’s
commitment to closing Guantanamo is admirable but it cannot result in
the creation of another indefinite detention system. Unlawful
imprisonment was not tenable at Guantanamo and it is certainly not
tenable on American soil.”
 
With
passage of the Military Commissions Act in 2006, which the Supreme
Court found to be illegal, the right for detainees to challenge their
detention was stripped away. The legislation also created a military
commission system for prosecuting detainees outside the American
criminal justice system which, tainted by political interference, has
been marred by ethical and legal problems from day one. Among other
things, the proceedings allow the admission of secret evidence, hearsay
and evidence obtained through torture. While the Obama administration
has proposed changes to the military commissions, civil liberties
groups, including the ACLU, worry these modifications are largely
cosmetic and do not change their fundamentally illegitimate and unjust
nature.
 
“We
live in a country that is governed by the rule of law,” said Anders.
“Detaining individuals without indefinitely without charge chips away
at our most basic constitutional rights and values. Our criminal
justice system has proven time and time again that it is more than
capable of handling terrorism cases. Congress is right to be skeptical
of President Obama’s proposal.”
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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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