ACLU Calls for the Restoration of Habeas Corpus and Closure of Guantánamo Bay

December 10, 2007 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON — As the Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security subcommittee held a hearing on the legal rights of the detainees at Guantánamo Bay, the American Civil Liberties Union renewed its call for the immediate restoration of habeas corpus due process rights and the closure of the Guantánamo Bay detention facility. The Military Commissions Act, passed by Congress right before the 2006 elections, eliminated the right to challenge one’s detention in court for detainees being held at Guantánamo Bay.

“The legal black hole that is the Guantánamo Bay detention facility violates fundamental American ideals and values and has long been a stain on America’s image,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “The idea that Americans are holding people indefinitely, some for over six years now, without charging them with any wrongdoing will surely be seen as a dark period in American history. Congress can reverse this course and undo the damage of the Military Commissions Act.”

In addition to the restoration of due process rights for detainees, the ACLU also supports Senator Tom Harkin’s (D-IA) bill to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The bill would close the facility within 120 days and send charged or sentenced detainees to the military’s maximum security prison at Fort Leavenworth. The remaining detainees would be sent to their home countries or other countries that will not torture or abuse them.

“Guantánamo Bay has become a dungeon for detainees. If these individuals truly present a threat to the United States, then our government should file charges and send them to trial,” said ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel Christopher Anders. “The argument that ‘off-U.S. soil off-the-hook’ does not ring true. Senator Harkin’s bill effectively closes Guantánamo while providing incentive for the government to finally charge those detainees believed to be guilty of crimes against the United States. The Senate should pass this important legislation.”

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