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Happy Anniversary, Guantanamo: Obama’s Task Force Stands in the Way of Justice

January 22, 2010

Exactly one year ago, President Obama signed an executive order to close the illegal detention facility at the Guantanamo Bay naval base. In his own words, the closure of Guantanamo would be “consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice.”

This time last year, the air was full of the promise of hope and the excitement of a new age — an opportunity for the U.S. government to definitively reject torture and restore its commitment to human rights for all.

Where are we now?

President Obama’s goal was to have Guantanamo closed by January 22, 2010. This day has arrived, and Guantanamo remains open. It is our hope that President Obama will take advantage of the State of the Union as a tremendous opportunity to renew his commitment to closing Guantanamo in a way that respects human rights.

FCNL, along with a wide array of human rights organizations, has been urging the Obama administration to choose one of two paths for each of the remaining detainees:

(1) Release detainees to their home countries or resettle them in new countries if they would be tortured or persecuted if returned home.

(2) Put detainees on trial using federal courts to determine whether they should continue to be detained.

Back in 2009 when President Obama signed the executive order, he created a task force to figure out just what to do with the remaining detainees. Today, the New York Times reports that the task force has reached its conclusions, and they’re not nearly as good as we would have hoped.

Here’s the breakdown, according to the task force: Just under 200 detainees are still held at Guantanamo. 110 of those detainees should be released or resettled. 40 of them should be prosecuted. And what about the remaining 50? The task force says that they are too difficult to prosecute yet too dangerous to release.

At FCNL, we still maintain that the Obama administration should either prosecute or release the detainees. If there is a good reason to continue to detain an individual, then officials should be able to prove it before a court. If not, then that individual should be released.

In order for the United States to move forward, we need transparency. The task force’s findings come as a disappointment because they stand in the way of justice for all.

The people of the United States deserve to live in a country that rejects torture and grants everyone a fair day in court. During the State of the Union, President Obama should renew the administration’s commitment to closing Guantanamo in a way that respects human rights.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 25, 2010 8:57 pm

    Becca,Good blogging. You might be interested in this guest column that appeared in the Concord Monitor last week http://www.concordmonitor.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100120/OPINION/1200313/1028/OPINION02.

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