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Closing Guantánamo: Not Just When, But How

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September 29, 2009

Since last Thursday’s ProPublica and Washington Post article about the unlikelihood of the Obama administration meeting its own goal (PDF) of shuttering Guantánamo by January 22, 2010, Gitmo has constantly been in the news.

With all the discussion, it’s important to reiterate that how Guantánamo will be closed is just as important as when.

Recent news reports indicate that the Obama administration will not seek legislation or issue an executive order to institute a system of indefinite detention without charge or trial.

While we are very happy to hear that the administration will not seek new legislation to create a permanent system of indefinite detention, we are deeply troubled by the reported suggestion by administration officials that, even after Guantánamo is closed, as many as 60 terrorism suspects — including individuals with no connection to any conventional battlefield — may continue to be held indefinitely without charge or trial. We oppose the idea that there is a class of detainees at Gitmo who are too dangerous to release, but can’t be brought to trial in federal courts.

As Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project, said in statement Friday: “In a democracy, there is no room for a system of detention that allows human beings to be imprisoned indefinitely without charge or trial.”

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