Vincent Warren on Why Congress Should Close Guantánamo

January 9, 2012

Congress Should Close Guantánamo

From its inception, Guantánamo was intended to be a legal black hole, designed to deny its prisoners the most basic human rights and due process. Most of the 779 men who have been imprisoned and abused there over the last 10 years were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were picked up far from any battlefield, turned over to the U.S. for a bounty, and held long after government officials acknowledged that they were innocent of any wrongdoing. Likewise, the military commission system created to try Guantánamo detainees was invented to allow convictions based on evidence that would never be allowed in a courtroom, including hearsay and evidence obtained through torture.

Through years of tireless work in the courts, the Center for Constitutional Rights and pro bono attorneys across the country established that Guantánamo prisoners have a right to counsel, a right to habeas corpus and a right to meaningfully challenge their detention. Though several Supreme Court rulings have confirmed that Guantánamo does not exist outside the law, Congress has blocked attempts to close the island internment camp at every turn. Provisions in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act effectively prevent the release of 89 men who have been unanimously cleared by the C.I.A., F.B.I., N.S.C. and Department of Defense for transfer or resettlement, and codify a system of indefinite detention that should make us all shudder. more