ACLU Calls On Obama To Close Guantánamo On Day One Of Presidency

November 10, 2008

Group Launches Campaign Urging New Administration To Restore Fundamental Rights And Reclaim America's Moral Leadership

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CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union launched a new campaign today calling on President-elect Barack Obama to close the Guantánamo Bay prison and end the military commissions on Day One of his presidency.

Obama, as a candidate, pledged to "close Guantánamo, reject the Military Commissions Act and adhere to the Geneva Conventions." In a full page ad in the New York Times today, the ACLU urges Obama, as president, to fulfill those promises and immediately restore America's moral leadership in the world.

"There is no room for patience or delay in these areas. We have to hold President-elect Obama's feet to the fire if we're going to turn hope into reality," said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. "We hope that President-elect Obama, as soon as he is sworn in, will take bold action and sign an executive order closing Guantánamo and ending the sham military commissions there. It is time to restore American values of justice, due process and human rights."

In addition to ordering the closure of Guantánamo, the ACLU calls on President-elect Obama to sign Day One executive orders banning the use of torture and abuse and ending the practice of extraordinary rendition.

"We welcome the end to a Bush administration that is leaving behind a disastrous legacy of civil liberties violations, abuse of power and executive overreaching, yet there is no room for complacency," said Romero. "We are hopeful that President Obama will honor the U.S. Constitution and passionately promote all the rights for which it stands."

In addition to the ad in the New York Times, the ACLU launched a new Web site where it will premiere a series of short videos about Guantánamo produced in partnership with Brave New Foundation, a leading producer of online videos about today's most pressing issues. The videos will feature interviews with attorneys, former prison guards and released prisoners, some of whom will be speaking publicly for the first time.

"We've all seen the reports in the news about the tragedy that is Guantánamo Bay," said Robert Greenwald, president of Brave New Foundation. "But Americans haven't yet heard it directly from those who were there. The ACLU is pioneering the use of new media in their work and we are so proud to be a part of it. They're planning to release these videos in full public view on the Internet, representing a major step forward in terms of transparency on this issue in particular and on government policy in general. The ACLU and Brave New Foundation are taking a first, big step out of the secrecy of the Bush era."

On November 13, the ACLU will hold a nationwide telephone town hall with supporters and activists from across the country to discuss the state of civil liberties transitioning from the Bush administration to the Obama administration. The call will be moderated by Romero and Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. A question and answer period will follow the discussion.

More information about the town hall is available online at: www.aclu.org/townhall

The new ACLU Web site goes live with the first video today at: www.closegitmo.com

Romero has posted a statement about the ACLU's campaign at: blog.aclu.org/2008/11/10/obama-close-gitmo-on-day-one-you-can-do-it-weve-got-your-back/

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