Senators Introduce Bill to Make Guantánamo Permanent Prison for Terror Suspects

Washington, D.C. — Legislation introduced today in the Senate to force the Obama administration to declare Guantánamo a permanent prison for terror suspects will inspire America’s enemies and undermine the American justice system, a leading human rights group said. U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), along with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Joseph I. Lieberman (I-CT), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Scott Brown (R-MA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the “Detaining Terrorists To Secure America Act” (S. 944) – legislation that would keep open the Guantánamo Bay terrorist detention facility for the detention and interrogation of current and future terrorism suspects. The legislation also permanently limits the transfer of detainees to foreign countries and prohibits funding for the construction of terrorist detention facilities within the United States. Rear Admiral John Hutson, former Judge Advocate General of the Navy, said, “Guantánamo is a failed experiment. It has inspired our enemies. It serves as a symbol of second class justice to the world. Our allies simply will not turn over to the United States those suspected of terror related crimes if we are going to send them to Guantánamo.” “This bill undermines our national security and our system of justice,” said Hutson who serves on the Human Rights First board. C. Dixon Osburn, director of Human Rights First’s law and security program said, “Congress should restore to full strength our criminal justice system that has proven its ability to handle complex counter terrorism cases, in sharp contrast to our military commissions, and it should ensure that all necessary steps are taken to close the facility at Guantánamo and the failed policies that have plagued it.” Some of America’s leading military leaders and diplomats share Rear Admiral Hutson’s and Human Rights First’s views. In 2009, General Petraeus said, “Gitmo has caused us problems, there’s no question about it. I oversee a region in which the existence of Gitmo has indeed been used by the enemy against us.” General Colin Powell once said of Guantánamo, “Guantánamo has become a major, major problem … in the way the world perceives America and if it were up to me I would close Guantánamo not tomorrow but this afternoon….” The Bush Administration imprisoned 779 people at Guantánamo Bay.[1] To date, 600 have been released or transferred,[2] and another 89 are set to be released or transferred[3] – 88%. Others have been cleared for release, but their transfers have been severely restricted by Congress. The Chief of Staff to former Secretary of State General Colin Powell said that the Bush Administration knew that most of the prisoners were innocent.[4] The recent release of Guantánamo files by Wikileaks revealed, among other things, that the United States erroneously detained a fourteen year old boy and an 89 year old man with dementia.

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Published on May 11, 2011


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