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Anthony Romero on Salon Radio

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November 12, 2008

On Monday, ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero talked with Glenn Greenwald about our new Close Gitmo campaign, and why it’s so important that President-elect Obama close Guantánamo on Day One. Namely, this can happen with the stroke of a pen. Unlike fixing health care, the war in Iraq, the economy and the environment, President Obama can literally close Guantánamo and shut down the military commissions system with an executive order. Anthony points out that the prison camp was opened with an executive order; it can be closed that way too.

MeteorBlades started a terrific discussion on DailyKos on the likelihood of President Obama accomplishing this on Day One. And on Invictus, Valtin discusses why creating a whole new system of justice to try the Guantánamo detainees is completely unnecessary. We couldn’t agree more. In fact, we discussed this last April after a New Yorker article raised the possibility of “national security court,” and commented on it again Monday. Anthony also explains how our current justice system is already equipped to deal with the prosecution of terrorism suspects in the Salon interview:

We understand that these cases may represent different legal theories than the thug on the street who picked up my wallet, right? We have procedures in place to deal with them. We have the Classified Information Procedures Act, which allows us to put evidence before judges and make sure that if they’re classified or if they represent issues on national security they’re not broadcast to the public, therefore jeopardizing national security further. We have ways of making sure that witnesses are protected in coming forward, so that they’re not open to further attacks by other terrorists who might be still out there.

…[A Human Rights First report] put out by a group of former prosecutors and former military officials…said that our existing criminal justice system, and our existing UCMJ system, the Uniform Code of Military Justice system, is perfectly equipped to deal with these types of cases. We’ve done it before. In fact, we’ve done it even in the Bush administration; we have Zacarias Moussaoui and Padilla prosecuted under federal criminal courts. And what we need is to make sure we have a neutral set of rules.

Our system of justice has served us well for a long time. Now isn’t the time to reinvent the wheel—again.

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