Retired Generals and Admirals Urge Senate to Take Steps to Close Guantanamo Responsibly

Washington, D.C. – As the Senate takes up the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this week, 38 of the nation’s most respected retired generals and admirals are urging members of the Senate to take steps to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility responsibly.

In a letter to all senators, the retired admirals and generals wrote, “As the United States ends the war in Afghanistan in 2014, the government must find a lawful disposition for all detainees captured as part of that war.”  They added,  “As retired flag and general officers, we believe it is imperative for Congress to address Guantanamo now. We have always believed that our detention policies should adhere to the rule of law, and that we as a nation are more secure when we do. Guantanamo is a betrayal of American values. The prison is a symbol of torture and justice delayed. More than a decade after it opened, Guantanamo remains a recruiting poster for terrorists which makes us all less safe.”

The retired generals and admirals leaders noted that keeping the Guantanamo Bay detention facility open is also fiscally irresponsible, especially as the government makes cuts as mandated by sequestration. The group expressed support for provisions in the NDAA that were reported out of the Senate Armed Services Committee, including expanded transfer authorities, as they provide meaningful steps towards closing Guantanamo.

“[The NDAA] authorizes the transfer of detainees cleared for transfer by the U.S. intelligence and defense agencies for purposes of resettlement or repatriation, and it permits transfers to the U.S. for purposes of prosecution, incarceration, and medical treatment. We support these provisions,” wrote the generals and admirals.

Some of the retired admirals and generals are in Washington, D.C. this week monitoring the NDAA debate and are available to discuss their work on the bill. The nonpartisan coalition of retired generals and admirals who signed the letter today have led efforts to end torture in U.S. policy and practice and ensure that U.S. security policies related to detention and treatment or enemy prisoners are consistent with the Geneva Conventions.  The group formed over concerns about the treatment of enemy prisoners in U.S. custody at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.  In 2008, they shared their insights with eight presidential candidates from both parties, and members of the group stood behind the President Obama on his second day in office when he signed the executive order closing Guantanamo.

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