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Reaction to Executive Order Announced by President Obama on Guantanamo and Detainee Policy
WASHINGTON - March 7 - The Constitution Project (TCP) issued a statement in reaction to the release of an executive order that would establish a regular review process for Guantanamo detainees who will not be released or tried, and an order to Secretary Gates to refer new charges to the military commissions system.
According to TCP Policy Counsel Mason C. Clutter, "Continuing to arbitrarily hold the detainees without charge for an indefinite period of time is inconsistent with our Constitution and the rule of law. While creating a system of periodic review for the Guantanamo detainees whose habeas petitions have been denied is a welcome improvement over current circumstances, the remaining detainees must be held in a manner consistent with the law of war, brought before a court to face criminal charges, or released. These are the only options available to us that are consistent with our constitutional obligations."
Ms. Clutter further observed, "TCP is pleased that President Obama remains committed to using Article III courts, but is very disappointed that he has decided to give new life to the military commissions without proceeding with parallel prosecutions in our proven civilian criminal justice system. Our civilian criminal justice system remains the most effective tool in America's fight against terrorism, with a track record of handling more than 400 terrorism related cases compared to only 6 cases completed in the military commissions. We urge the President and Congress to work together to repeal current legislation and prevent future legislation that would prohibit the administration from using civilian criminal courts."
In 2009, TCP released Beyond Guantanamo: A Bipartisan Declaration advocating for the use of our traditional federal criminal courts to try the remaining Guantanamo detainees and opposing a system of indefinite detention without charge. The bipartisan Declaration was signed by nearly 140 prominent experts, including former federal judges, prosecutors, diplomats, military and intelligence leaders, and 9/11 victim family members.
Ms. Clutter and Declaration signatories are available for comment.