ACLU Statement on the 20th Anniversary of Guantánamo

Group Runs Full Page Ad Calling on President Biden to Close Guantánamo

January 10, 2022 4:15 pm

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WASHINGTON — 20 years have passed since the first detainees arrived at the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, which is the longest-standing war prison in U.S. history. Since 2002, 779 Muslim men and boys have been held at Guantánamo, nearly all of them without charge or trial. Today, 39 men remain indefinitely detained there, 27 of whom have never been charged with a crime. 14 detainees have been cleared for transfer or release, some for years. Many of these men are torture survivors, and some were formerly disappeared into CIA “black sites” before being sent to Guantánamo. All of them have been exposed to the physical and psychological trauma associated with prolonged indefinite detention.

To mark the anniversary, the American Civil Liberties Union is running a full-page advertisement in POLITICO, calling for President Biden to close Guantánamo by ending indefinite military detention and the unconstitutional military commissions. The ad features a stain on the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, reflecting the United States’ failure to recognize even fundamental fairness rights for the men detained at Guantánamo. It links to a petition demanding that President Biden finally shut this national embarrassment down. The ad was designed by Oberland.

Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, issued the following statement:

“The Guantánamo Bay military prison is a catastrophic legal, moral, and ethical failure. It is a global symbol of American injustice, torture, and abuse of power.

“It’s a national disgrace that our government has for 20 years indefinitely detained Muslim men at Guantánamo, and persists with unconstitutional and secretive military trials. President Biden needs to finally put an end to this extralegal and abhorrent prison and system.

“The path to closing Guantánamo responsibly is clear. The Biden administration can transfer the men who will not be charged with a crime, starting with those who have been cleared for years. It can resolve the broken and unconstitutional military commissions by pursuing plea agreements that would account for defendants’ torture by our government, while providing a measure of transparency and justice, as 9/11 family members have urged.

“Guantánamo was a laboratory for American torture and its corruption persists so long as indefinite detention and unfair, secretive military trials continue. If President Biden is serious about upholding human rights, racial equity, and justice, he needs to take action by finally closing Guantánamo.

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