Banning Guantanamo Transfers a Step Backward on National Security
Washington, DC – Following news that the U.S. Senate’s version of the 2011 Omnibus Appropriations bill contains language that blocks transfers of Guantanamo detainees into the United States for any purpose before September 30, 2011 or until Congress passes a new defense authorization bill lifting the ban, Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino issued the following statement: “Congress’ plan to delay efforts to bring Guantanamo detainees into the United States for trial in federal court would delay justice for the 2,977 people who lost their lives on 9/11. Senior military leaders, including General Powell and General Petraeus, have argued that Guantanamo makes us less safe, and yet Congress is taking affirmative steps to preserve it. We urge those on Capitol Hill to put politics aside and refocus on implementing smart national security strategies that include holding those who would harm Americans accountable in our courts. “The impact of this troubling provision is compounded by the Obama Administration’s failure to use its existing authority to move ahead with federal trials beyond its recent conviction of Ahmed Ghailani, prosecutions that are consistent with the framework outlined by President Obama in his Archives speech. That inaction has left a vacuum of leadership.” Last week, in a letter sent to Democrats in the Senate, a group of 17 military leaders urged the Senators to ensure that such reckless language would not be included in the Senate’s spending bill. “We urge you to oppose any restrictions proposed for inclusion in the fiscal year 2011 funding bill that would put politics before American values and national security and hinder the President from bringing suspected terrorists to justice,” they wrote.