ACLU Praises Obama's Plan To Close Guantánamo

November 17, 2008

Government's Replacement Of Military Judge In 9/11 Cases Is Transparent Attempt To Ram Through Cases Before Administration Changes, Adds Group

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union strongly praises President-elect Barack Obama's promise on CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday night to close down Guantánamo and its unconstitutional military commissions being used to prosecute detainees.

"After eight years of a Bush administration that thumbed its nose at the Constitution and the rule of law, it is incredibly gratifying that President-elect Obama plans to put an end to the Guantánamo prison camp and its sham military commission system which have been a stain on America's name at home and abroad. We strongly urge him to take such action on Day One with the stroke of a pen, by executive order," said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. "The Bush military commissions that violate core constitutional principles and rely on hearsay, secret evidence and evidence obtained through torture have no place in our democracy. Federal civilian or military courts are perfectly capable of handling terrorism prosecutions and accommodating sensitive national security concerns, as has been demonstrated time and time again."

On Monday morning, immediately following President-elect Obama's promise to close Guantánamo and its shameful commissions, it was announced that a new military judge would be assigned to the military commission cases against Guantánamo detainees accused of perpetrating 9/11 crimes, effective immediately.

"The timing of the announcement to replace the military commission judge on the 9/11 cases is highly suspect and disturbing," said Romero. "We cannot allow the Bush administration to sabotage President-elect Obama's plans by ramming through these cases in its last days while the new administration is making plans to dismantle the military commission system. This seems like a quintessential set-up by a defeated administration bitter about its failure to achieve the real justice Americans deserve."

As part of the John Adams Project, a partnership with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the ACLU is sponsoring expert civilian counsel to assist the under-resourced military defense counsel for several Guantánamo detainees. More information on the John Adams Project is available online at: www.aclu.org/johnadams

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