Obama Administration Moving Forward With Plan to Try Some Guantánamo Detainees in Military Commissions

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Rachel Myers, (212) 549-2689 or 2666; media@aclu.org

Obama Administration Moving Forward With Plan to Try Some Guantánamo Detainees in Military Commissions

Federal Courts Are Only Way to Achieve Real Justice, Says ACLU

NEW YORK - The
Obama administration is planning to increase the use of military
commissions to prosecute terrorism suspects, according to an article in The New York Times today. The Times
reported that the administration is expected to lift a ban on bringing
new military commissions charges and would then bring charges against
one or more detainees, including Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Ahmed Muhammed
Haza al-Darbi and Obaydullah within weeks. Al-Nashiri, who is accused
in the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, was waterboarded in U.S. custody
and subjected to other well-documented torture and abuse.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced in November 2009 that the
administration would continue to use the illegitimate military
commissions system to prosecute some Guantánamo detainees. At the same
time, Holder announced that the administration would prosecute the five
Guantánamo detainees accused in the 9/11 attacks in federal court rather
than the military commissions, but the administration has not acted on
those plans.

The following can be attributed to Hina Shamsi, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Security Project:

"Trying Guantánamo detainees in a system that is designed to ensure
convictions, not fair trials, strikes a major blow to any efforts to
restore the rule of law.

"The decision to proceed with commissions in cases such as al-Nashiri's
raises serious questions about whether commissions are being used as a
forum to hide the use of torture and base convictions on evidence that
would be too untrustworthy to be admitted in any real court. Unlike
federal courts, which have well-established rules of procedure and
evidence, the military commissions rules do not comply with U.S. and
international law.

"It is disappointing that the administration is determined to proceed
with the discredited commissions but shows little appetite for following
through on its plans to prosecute other Guantánamo cases in federal
courts. If credible evidence exists against detainees, they should be
prosecuted in federal criminal courts, which have a record of
successfully completing hundreds of terrorism trials and are fully
capable of protecting both national security and fundamental rights.

"Proceeding with the illegitimate military commissions system takes us
back a step when we should be moving forward toward closing Guantánamo,
ending its shameful policies and restoring the rule of law."

Saturday marks two years since President Obama, on his second full day
in office, signed an Executive Order to close the prison at Guantánamo.  

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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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