President Obama Correctly Rebukes Congressional Attempt To Hinder Transfer Of Guantánamo Detainees To U.S.

January 7, 2011 9:57 pm

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President Should Follow Up Today’s Signing Statement By Closing Guantánamo And Ending The Indefinite Detention Of Prisoners There, Says ACLU

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WASHINGTON – President Obama issued a signing statement today sharply criticizing provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that bar the use of Defense Department funds to transfer Guantánamo detainees to the U.S. for any reason and hinder transfers with Defense Department funds to foreign countries for resettlement or repatriation. Although the president signed the NDAA into law, he indicated that he will seek legislation to reverse the provisions and oppose any attempts to expand them in the future.

In a letter sent to the president on January 5, the ACLU pointed out that the NDAA provisions barred use of only a narrow section of government funds and the president can and should assert his authority to use non-Defense Department funds to transfer the detainees.

The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU:

“President Obama is correct that Congress should not be attempting to bar the administration from using government funds to transfer Guantánamo detainees to U.S. soil for prosecution or to transfer them to foreign countries for repatriation or release.

“But even with today’s signing of the Defense Authorization Act, President Obama still has the ability to transfer Guantánamo detainees away from the notorious prison. There is nothing stopping the president from ordering the Department of Justice or Homeland Security to send planes to Guantánamo to transfer detainees to the United States for prosecution or to foreign countries for repatriation or resettlement, and he should do so as soon as possible.

“The unlawful detention of Guantánamo detainees for almost nine years without charge or trial is a stain on America’s reputation and should be ended immediately. If the government believes there is credible evidence against Guantánamo detainees, it should bring those detainees to the U.S. for prosecution in the American justice system. Our criminal justice system has a successful history of prosecuting hundreds of terrorism cases while both protecting national security interests and upholding constitutional rights. Where no credible evidence exists, detainees should be transferred to countries where they will be safe.

“Guantánamo must be closed as soon as possible and we must put an end to the unlawful policies that have been carried out there. It is high time to restore the rule of law.”

The ACLU’s letter is online at:

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