For Immediate Release
(202) 580-6922 or
Congress Continues to Debate Military Commissions
Worthy of debate but not of reinstating, says Constitution Project
WASHINGTON - The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security
has scheduled a hearing for this afternoon to examine the options
available to prosecute suspected terrorists - those currently held at
the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and elsewhere, as well as for
future detainees. The Constitution Project welcomes further hearings to
discuss the merits of various avenues to try detainees, but warns
against seeking to reform the flawed and tainted military commissions
adopted under the Military Commissions Act of 2006.
The following can be attributed to Virginia Sloan, president of the Constitution Project:
has recognized the need to hold full and open debates on reinstating
the military commissions, but any attempt at reform will be too little
and too late. The proceedings established under the Military
Commissions Act constituted a lesser and unjust system of justice that
failed to live up to the legal traditions of our nation. Changes
proposed by President Obama and some in Congress to improve evidentiary
standards and due process protections cannot transform the tainted
commissions into a legitimate forum for prosecuting detainees.
should instead be devoting its time and energy towards working with the
Obama administration to prosecute suspected terrorists in our federal
courts. Our traditional court system has a proven track record in
successfully bringing suspected terrorists to justice - both foreign
and domestic - without sacrificing the nation's safety or the
defendant's right to a fair trial. Some in Congress have proposed
further prohibitions on the transfer of detainees into the United
States, even for their prosecution in our traditional court system.
This continues to move the goal line of closing Guantanamo further and
The following is an excerpt from a statement
opposing military commissions issued by Stephen Abraham, a retired
Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army and member of the
Constitution Project's Liberty and Security Committee. Speaking as an
individual, Lieutenant Colonel Abraham says:
"I have witnessed
firsthand military proceedings purporting to satisfy fundamental rights
embodied in our Constitution...Military commissions are an unacceptable
substitute for our federal courts that have demonstrated time and again
that they can handle such cases as these without diminishing our
national security or shared values. Are we so weary - or fearful - of
the institutions upon which our nation's heritage has been established
that we would so easily discard them?"
To see the full text of Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Abraham's statement opposing the revival of military commissions, go to:
see the letter urging Congress to hold full and open hearings signed by
23 advocacy organizations, including the Constitution Project, go to:
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The Constitution Project is a politically independent think tank established in 1997 to promote and defend constitutional safeguards. More information about the Constitution Project is available at http://constitutionproject.org/.