The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Rachel Myers, (646) 206-8643 or (212) 549-2666;

No Special Court System Necessary For Guantanamo Detainees, Says ACLU

Group Responds To News Reports About Obama Team Plans


reports today indicated that President-elect Barack Obama's team was
preparing a plan to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and
possibly create an alternative court system to try some of the
detainees. Obama's transition team later clarified that no decisions
have yet been made about detainee prosecutions.

While the ACLU strongly supports the
closure of Guantanamo and believes it should be done on Day One of
Obama's presidency by executive order, there is no reason that
Guantanamo detainees cannot be prosecuted in traditional U.S. criminal
courts or military courts governed by the Uniform Code of Military

The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU:

"Any effort by President-elect
Obama's transition team and their advisors to develop new procedures to
try the Guantanamo detainees is a distraction and a doomed effort. We
have the best systems of justice in the world - either through the
Uniform Code of Military Justice or through our criminal court system.
President Bush made the terrible mistake of believing he could make up
a new system of justice for terrorism cases and that experiment failed
miserably. Any attempt to secure convictions by diluting basic due
process safeguards will have lasting implications that are unlikely to
be confined to Guantanamo. If the Bush administration violated
prisoners' rights by torturing them in order to get a confession, no
new law or legal system will fix that taint. If the only evidence
against a Guantanamo detainee was obtained through torture, then there
is no reliable evidence that can be used in an American court. A new
legal system designed to get around that unfortunate legacy is destined
for years of legal challenges by advocates who rightly believe that,
under our system of justice, no one's rights are safe unless everyone's
rights are protected."

More information about the ACLU's call for Obama to shut down Guantanamo and the military commissions is available online at:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

(212) 549-2666