January 5, 2010

Group Also Decries Court Decision Upholding Sweeping Presidential Detention Powers

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NEW YORK – President Obama announced today that the U.S. will halt all transfers of Guantánamo detainees to Yemen, potentially obstructing his expressed intention to close the military prison. Approximately 35 Yemeni detainees had been cleared for release prior to today’s announcement.

Also today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied a Yemeni detainee’s appeal for release from Guantánamo. The court found that the detention of Ghaleb Nassar Al-Bihani, who has been held without charge at the prison since 2002, is lawful. The opinion further suggested that courts could ignore international law.

The following can be attributed to Ben Wizner, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project:

“While we appreciate that President Obama stated that he is still determined to close Guantánamo, the decision to halt all transfers of detainees to Yemen will prolong a shameful chapter in American history without making Americans any safer. Continuing to detain individuals who have been cleared for release simply because they come from a certain country is unwise, unjust and does absolutely nothing to improve our security.”

The following can be attributed to Jonathan Hafetz, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project:

“After eight years, the continued detention of prisoners without charge is an affront to the Constitution. Today's court opinion is a setback to justice and the rule of law. The unnecessary endorsement of excessive military detention power and the suggestion that America is free to defy international law flouts all precedent and, if actually adopted, would jeopardize America's security as well as its values.”

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