No president should have the power to declare the entire globe a war zone, seize and detain civilians anywhere in the world, and hold them indefinitely without charge or trial.
Presidents Bush and Obama have done just that, and Trump is following, defining their powers too broadly and claiming the authority to arrest and detain without charge or trial prisoners captured far from any battlefield. As a result of this claimed authority, more than 40 men remain imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay.
Our federal courts are well equipped to prosecute terror suspects and handle sensitive national security evidence while protecting fundamental rights. If there is reliable evidence, detainees should be prosecuted in our tried and true justice system. If there is not enough reliable evidence for prosecution, there is certainly not enough to justify locking someone up—possibly forever.
The ACLU fights in courts and advocates with Congress and the executive branch to ensure claims of war-based authority are properly limited to actual armed conflict, to end indefinite detention, and to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay. Imprisoning people indefinitely without charge or trial is unconstitutional, un-American, and an impediment to justice.
- Press ReleaseDecember 31, 2011
- InfographicNovember 8, 2013
- OtherSeptember 8, 2009
- OtherFebruary 22, 2012
- CaseNovember 6, 2018