WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union applauds today’s filing of an amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill that would close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. As the Senate debates the defense measure, which authorizes the Department of Defense for the next fiscal year, the American public is ensured that a debate and vote on the closure of Guantanamo Bay will now occur. The amendment was put forth by Senators Feinstein, Harkin, Dodd, Clinton, Brown, Bingaman, Kennedy, Whitehouse and Obama.
“For over five years now, Guantanamo Bay has tarnished America’s image and diminished our ideals. Its closure is long overdue and welcomed by the ACLU,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “The establishment of such a detention facility for the sole purpose of indefinitely holding individuals was inexcusable policy to begin with. Every day Guantanamo stays open, the United States is being led further away from the founding principles of our great nation – liberty, freedom and justice for all. The Senate cosponsors should be commended for taking action to prevent the further erosion of our fundamental values.”
The amendment will effectively close the detention facility within a year and prohibit the transfer of those being held by the U.S. to facilities outside the continental United States. It also requires the Bush administration to send a report to Congress within 90 days, outlining its plans for the remaining detainees.
“The Feinstein-Harkin amendment is a welcome first step towards shutting down Guantanamo Bay and restoring the rule of law in America,” said Christopher Anders, ACLU Legislative Counsel. “It’s a great start, although further action will be required to impose clear limitations on the executive branch in order to stop any further problems. The next step is to ensure that those currently being held at Guantanamo, upon being transferred to the United States, are then either charged with a crime and tried, or sent to countries where we are certain they will not be tortured. After lots of talk and promises on shutting down Guantanamo, this legislation will finally close its doors forever.”