The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Mandy Simon, (202) 675-2312;
Rachel Myers, (212) 549-2689 or 2666;

Justice Department Official Tells Congress Due Process Applies to Guantanamo Military Commissions

Calls for Indefinite Detention Cannot Be Reconciled With Constitution, Says ACLU


In a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill about the Guantanamo military commissions Tuesday, Justice Department official David Kris testified that the Due Process Clause of the Constitution should indeed apply to the commissions system. However, in other testimony, Defense Department official Jeh Johnson stated that the United States can continue to indefinitely hold detainees who have been acquitted of crimes.

In further hearings today before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, American Civil Liberties Union attorney Denny LeBoeuf testified that the military commissions are inherently unconstitutional and cannot be fixed.

The following can be attributed to Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel:

"For the first time ever in a public setting, a Justice Department official testified that the Due Process Clause of the Constitution applies to the military commissions at Guantanamo and, as a result, that coerced evidence must be barred from military commission trials. But it is too late to fix this irreparable system that flies in the face of the most basic principles of our democracy and justice system. The military commissions system was set up to circumvent the law and the Constitution in order to achieve easy convictions, not to provide justice, and the results of such a sham system will never be legitimate. The only way for America to live up to its highest ideals is for the president to commit to ending the Guantanamo military commissions, trying detainees suspected of a crime in our federal court system, and resettling or repatriating those who are not charged and tried."

The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project:

"Continuing to detain a person indefinitely without charge or trial for a crime for which he has been acquitted is absurd and unconstitutional. If the government has sufficient evidence to warrant criminal charges against prisoners held at Guantanamo, it should file those charges and prosecute the prisoners in ordinary federal courts. But the government should not be holding prisoners indefinitely without charge or trial, and it should certainly not be holding show trials from which guilty verdicts will be honored but acquittals will be ignored. The suggestion that the government can protect the country only by disregarding the Constitution is an extremely dangerous one that should be unequivocally rejected."

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.

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