For Immediate Release
Constitution Project Welcomes Law Allowing Transfer of Detainees into U.S. For Prosecution
Federal courts are proper venue for charging those still held at Guantanamo
WASHINGTON - Earlier today, President Barack Obama signed into law the National
Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (NDAA), a major funding
bill that attracted a plethora of national security related amendments.
Contained within the NDAA is a provision allowing for the transfer of
suspected terrorists held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility into
the United States to face prosecution. The Constitution Project
welcomes the provision permitting transfers, which will facilitate the
prosecution of terrorist suspects in federal court. Unfortunately, at
the same time, the language forbids any detainee's release from custody
into the United States, a decision best left to the courts and the
prosecuting authorities. Finally, the law requires advance notice to
Congress before transfer to another country.
within the NDAA is a section titled the Military Commissions Act of
2009, which revises some of the procedures first established by the
Military Commissions Act of 2006. While the latest version of the MCA
made some improvements from its predecessor, the newly-enacted law
still fails to provide defendants with protections that would be
required in the traditional justice system.
The following can be attributed to Virginia Sloan, president of the Constitution Project:
chambers of Congress advanced, and the president signed into law,
legislation that will allow for those still being held at Guantanamo
without charge to finally face justice inside a U.S. courtroom. Our
federal courts have proven their ability to handle the most difficult
terrorism cases, and to do so without jeopardizing national security.
They are the best choice for seeking just outcomes for those that
remain at Guantanamo.
"In contrast to the transfer provision,
which we welcome, the Military Commissions Act of 2009 raises serious
constitutional concerns. Although they are an improvement from the 2006
version, the reformed commissions still fail to provide critical
safeguards for the accused that are available in our traditional
criminal justice system. This lesser degree of process is not justice.
Furthermore, these modest improvements cannot save the irretrievably
tainted military commissions. Congress and the president did the right
thing by clearing the way for detainees to face charges in the U.S. Now
they need to follow through and bring charges in our federal court
The Constitution Project is a politically independent think tank established in 1997 to promote and defend constitutional safeguards. More information about the Constitution Project is available at http://constitutionproject.org/.