Dropped Charges Against Guantánamo Detainees Are Evidence Of Failed Policies, Says ACLU

October 21, 2008 12:00 am

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Group Calls On Next President To Close Guantánamo And Repeal Military Commissions Act

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NEW YORK – The government’s decision to drop charges against five detainees held at Guantánamo Bay underscores the complete failure of the indefinite detention system and the need to shut down the prison and the military commissions system, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. According to news reports, the charges were dropped after a prosecutor for another detainee resigned, alleging the military was suppressing evidence favorable to the defense.

“The implosion of these five prosecutions painfully underscores how the Bush administration’s torture and detention policies have failed to render justice in any sense of the word,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “Any evidence of potential wrongdoing is forever poisoned from being used in real courts when it is obtained through torture, waterboarding or rendition. Justice hasn’t been served in any conceivable way by the Bush policies of torture, rendition and detention without due process. It’s failed all the way around and we need to close Guantánamo and shut down the military commissions.”

The ACLU represents one of the detainees, Binyam Mohamed, in his lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen Dataplan for its role in the CIA’s unlawful extraordinary rendition program. In 2002, Mohamed was seized in Pakistan, blindfolded, shackled and flown by the CIA to Morocco, where he was secretly detained for 18 months and interrogated and tortured by Moroccan intelligence services, and then transferred to Guantánamo.

In related news, the ACLU expressed deep disappointment that, despite his stated desire to shut down the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, President Bush has decided to keep the facility open. The ACLU called on the next administration and Congress to close the facility and repeal the unlawful Military Commissions Act.

“The Bush administration’s decision to pass the legacy of Guantánamo and the unlawful military commissions on to the next president only serves to prolong the deeply disturbing situation there,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Congress and the next president must take immediate steps to clean up the mess left by the Bush administration by repealing the Military Commissions Act and restoring habeas corpus for all people in detention. It is time to restore the Constitution and end the indefinite detention of people without charge.”

“Every additional day that Guantánamo Bay remains open is a bad day for America. The detention center and the sham military commissions occurring there fly in the face of fairness, due process and the rule of law which form the fabric of our democracy, our system of justice and American values,” added Romero. “Both presidential candidates have promised that they will close Guantánamo, which they can and should do on day one of the new administration. We call on the next president of the United States to honor this commitment and restore America’s reputation throughout the world by immediately closing Guantánamo and returning to the tried and true system of conducting prosecutions in civilian or traditional military courts where the Constitution still means something and where real justice can be served.”

As part of its John Adams Project, a partnership with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the ACLU is sponsoring expert civilian counsel to assist the under-resourced military defense counsel of some Guantánamo detainees.

More information on the John Adams Project is available online at: www.aclu.org/johnadams

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