Obama Lays Out Few Details for Closing Gitmo and Military Commissions

We, along with other Americans concerned with the direction of President Obama's approach to national security, watched with bated breath as he gave his much-anticipated speech this morning addressing national security issues including the closure of Guantánamo and the revival of the military commissions. Yesterday, human rights groups including the ACLU met with the president and members of his cabinet and expressed concerns about the president's reported plans for indefinite detention for some terrorism suspects. While today's speech was refreshing in its efforts to acknowledge the importance of the Constitution and the rule of law, we remain concerned about those issues.

Responding to the speech, Chris Anders, Senior Legislative Counsel for the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office stated:

Interestingly, President Obama gave his speech while standing within a few feet of the Constitution. He and Congress should keep that cherished document in mind when considering today's proposals. You can't square upholding the Constitution with pushing for a new military commission scheme that would allow people to be convicted based on coerced evidence and asking Congress to pass the nation's first-ever law permitting the federal government to declare someone dangerous and imprison the person indefinitely without any criminal charges. Congress should reject that proposal.

Denny LeBoeuf, Director of the ACLU's John Adams Project, assisting in the representation of capitally-charged detainees, said of the president's plan to restart the military commissions:

The proposed changes to the military commissions are merely cosmetic and do not erase the spectacle of the Department of Defense presiding over trials where coerced statements and accusations by unnamed accusers are permitted, and where detainees are not permitted to speak about their torture at the hands of the CIA or the military. Military commissions unfairly deprive detainees of meaningful defense resources. This "due process light" is particularly indefensible in death penalty cases.

However, we can certainly agree with the president when he said:

We will not be safe if we see national security as a wedge that divides America — it can and must be a cause that unites us as one people, as one nation.

That wedge, which politicians — including former Vice President Dick Cheney — have been using to scare American into opposing President Obama's plan to close Guantánamo, is dangerous. As we wrote before, it's a slap in the face to our federal judiciary, not to mention those who staff and operate this nation's maximum security prisons, to say that suspected terrorists cannot be incarcerated safely in America.

As the president pointed out, hundreds of convicted terrorists already reside in American jails, and no one has ever escaped from one of our federal maximum security prisons. Closing Guantánamo is key to restoring America's standing in the world, as a beacon of justice and due process.

We were also encouraged when the president said:

I believe that our existing democratic institutions are strong enough to deliver accountability…Congress can review abuses of our values…[t]he Department of Justice and our courts can work through and punish any violations of our laws.

You can support the ACLU's call for accountability: sign a petition to Attorney General Eric Holder demanding an independent prosecutor to investigate Bush-era criminal activity.

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May 20, 2009 - Almost attack! I will not sign your petition.

Ronald Needleman

I would like to know if any ACLU attorneys would be willing to accept Guantanamo detainees in their home town.


How many members of the ACLU have ever taken a bullet for thier country! How many of members of the ACLU would take up arms in defense of thier country?

Concerned !

Why is the ACLU worried about the Guantanamo Detainees? Your group has no idea what kind of harm you are doing to America. People should not support any efforts that you are putting in your lawsuits against anyone!

The ACLU should be checking to make sure Obama can be president. www.theobamafile.com

This is what scares my family.

Obama is not even a natural born US Citizen and or cannot even prove he is. People must ask themselves why does this president and or other parties are paying money to lawyers to keep is LIVE Birth Certificate from the public?


Since the ACLU is in such support of closing GITMO let's just move them into ACLU supporters homes. Or better yet let's move the ALCU and GITMO detainees to a tiny secluded island and leave them there. Maybe they could all live in harmony


If we bring these detainees to American soil it will only create a recruitment invironment ideal for these terrorists. We need to leave GITMO open and revamp the image it has. It's a fine working facility that is perfect to house enemy combatants in.

Lynn Longwill

You ought to be ashamed of yourself, especially on Memorial Day weekend. Why do you insist on protecting these terrorists that, if you gave a gun to, would shoot you in the face along with your children. How quickly you forget 9/11. Thousands of Americans were killed at the hands of these animals. You don't get it! Personally, I don't really give a damn about what the rest of the world thinks of us. God Bless America and the Constitution. Quit playing Big Brother. We don't need you or the oppression of this administration.


I find it disgraceful that Obama could be so gutless that he would pander to fanatics by continuing the use of kangaroo courts.I thought that he swore to uphold the constitution.
I think that both Ben Laden and the wing nuts will celebrate when America becomes a complete police state.


This is one voice of the free & the brave..........and I say to you:
I'll take your huddled masses, your poor, and your defenseless...........so yeah I'll pay to support ACLU, and I don't have to take a bullet to fight for whats right~~I'm smarter than that!! Oh and btw...when those INNOCENTS need a place to stay, hell yeah they can camp with me, anytime! I don't know what to expect from a 'detainee' at my house~~~but for some of the vipers that live in MY COUNTRY, I'm wayyyyyyyy ahead of you...and I knowwww what you have called for....and its not Grace, not justice, nor charitable! hahaha the ACLU strictly remains nonreligious and yet they stand for always GRACE, JUSTICE, CHARITY~~~ haven't you heard?



How can you have details of Kangaroo Court rev. 2?

As seems to be the pattern we announce the goal before we have a plan.

Why oh why do we have to create a new justice system to get justice for a few special defendants?

And where of where does the description of the Presidency in the Constitution say that he can imprison someone permanently without rights, a lawyer, a bail hearing, a trial etc.?


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