Gates Suggestion Would Move Guantánamo Onshore
Indefinite Detention Is Unconstitutional, Says ACLU
NEW YORK - Defense
Secretary Robert Gates suggested in congressional testimony Thursday
that as many as 100 Guantánamo detainees could be transferred to U.S.
soil and held without trial.
The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union:
"President Obama's initial decision
to close Guantánamo will be betrayed if we simply replace it with
another detention center on U.S. soil that disregards the law. In
George Bush's America, we held individuals without charge or trial, and
if President Obama follows suit it will be a fatal flaw that would
surely mar his presidency. The only way to uphold the Constitution and
due process is to either criminally charge Guantánamo detainees and
prosecute them in federal courts or, where no legitimate evidence
exists against them, let them go. America's federal courts are
well-equipped to accommodate the government's national security
interests without compromising the fundamental rights of criminal
"The Obama administration must
reject the myth that there exists a class of people who cannot be
prosecuted but are too dangerous to release. The federal government has
an imposing arsenal of prosecutorial weapons at its disposal including
broad material support and conspiracy laws. If prosecutors cannot meet
the minimal burdens of proof under such statutes, there is no
justification for holding a suspect indefinitely. One would hope that
if the government is convinced of a prisoner's guilt or potential
danger, the government would have gathered sufficient admissible
evidence by now to prove its case from untainted sources.
"The fact that the American justice
system prohibits imprisonment on the basis of evidence coerced through
torture is one of its strengths, not a weakness. The U.S. should not be
in the business of locking people up without due process or
jerry-rigging a new detention system to accommodate the torture
policies of the Bush administration. Any effort to develop a new legal
regime for holding individuals without charge or trials would doom the
Obama administration to the same failure that George Bush encountered
in his eight years as president."
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.