Carter Urged to Prioritize Closing Guantanamo
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First congratulates newly-confirmed Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and looks forward to working with him to advance U.S. national security policies that protect and promote American ideals.
“As the new secretary of defense, Carter will face a full agenda from day one, and play a pivotal role in overseeing policies with human rights at their core,” said Human Rights First’s Daphne Eviatar. “Closing Guantanamo should be one of the Pentagon’s top priorities for the next two years; it is critical that Carter work within his authority to hasten the transfer of detainees who have been cleared by competent U.S. authorities.”
Human Rights First urges Carter to prioritize closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay by rapidly increasing transfers of detainees cleared for release and completing Periodic Review Board hearings by the end of 2015. The organization also urges Carter to support congressional efforts to strengthen the bans on torture and cruelty that allowed the CIA to engage in torture.
Of the remaining Guantanamo detainees, 54 have been cleared by U.S. intelligence and security agencies and should be transferred without delay. The vast majority of the other remaining detainees will face Periodic Review Board hearings — an interagency process currently underway that will assess whether the detainees pose a significant security threat to the United States or should be cleared for transfer.
Today’s confirmation vote comes as the Senate examines proposed legislation that would include a blanket ban on transferring detainees from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay who at any point were considered a “medium” or “high” risk threat by the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo, regardless of their current threat level. Retired Gen. Michael Lehnert, the first commander at Guantanamo Bay, expressed his concern with the proposed legislation in a letter to senators sent earlier this week.
“National security experts agree that Guantanamo Bay damages U.S. national security,” noted Eviatar. “It is up to Carter to see the detention facility’s closure across the finish line.”