ACLU in Guantánamo Bay to Monitor First of New Military Commission Proceedings

March 26, 2007 12:00 am

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Calling Proceedings Deeply Flawed, Group Presses for Closure, Return to the Constitution and Right to Due Process

Staff Attorney Ben Wizner is in Guantánamo Bay witnessing the first proceedings of the new flawed military commissions. The ACLU continues to call for the closure of the facility and the restoration of due process.
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> Contact your members of Congress right now and tell them to close the prison at Guantánamo

> Letter of Anthony D. Romero to Defense Secretary Robert Gates (3/23/2007)
> About the Military Commissions Act

> Blogs and Audio on Five Years in Guantánamo

NEW YORK – As the Guantánamo Bay military commission proceedings began today under new, flawed rules, the American Civil Liberties Union reiterated its call to close Guantánamo and return to a legal system in line with the Constitution and the right to due process.

“Guantánamo Bay is a failure in the history of the American legal system and our commitment to due process. It must be closed,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “The America we hold in our hearts and our minds is not one where hundreds of men are locked up for years on end. The vast majority of the men detained at Guantánamo Bay have never been charged, and those who have been charged are subjected to a sham court proceeding.”

The ACLU is one of four organizations that have been granted status as human rights observers at the military commission proceedings. When the tribunals began in 2004, Romero and three ACLU lawyers attended the proceedings and blogged about the experience so Americans could know the truth of Guantánamo. The organization’s participation continues today with Ben Wizner, an ACLU staff attorney; Wizner’s blog posts will be available at

After two Supreme Court decisions rejecting the Bush administration’s detention policies at the facility, the legal status of the detainees there remains unresolved. The ACLU continues to press the U.S. government to close the Guantánamo Bay facility and to restore the right of due process under the Constitution and international law.

The ACLU has continued to hold government leadership accountable by litigating a Freedom of Information Act request for documents concerning the treatment of prisoners held in U.S. custody. So far, more than 100,000 pages of government documents detailing the torture and abuse of detainees have been released as a result of this litigation. They are all available and searchable on a public Web site:

In addition, the ACLU and Human Rights First have charged that the Secretary of Defense bears direct responsibility for the torture and abuse of detainees, and filed a complaint in federal court in January 2006 on behalf of nine men subjected to torture and abuse under his command. More information is available online at

Many of the ACLU’s concerns with the military commissions are available online at

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