January 10, 2017, New York – In advance of the Senate confirmation hearing scheduled this afternoon for Retired Major General John Kelly to lead the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement:
General Kelly’s aggressive oversight of the illegal military prison at Guantánamo Bay disqualifies him to head the Department of Homeland Security. Presiding over a population of detainees not charged or convicted of crimes, over whom he had maximum custodial control, Kelly treated them with brutality. His response to the detainees’ peaceful hunger strike in 2013 was punitive force-feeding, solitary confinement, and rubber bullets. Furthermore, he sabotaged efforts by the Obama administration to resettle detainees, consistently undermining the will of his commander in chief. His temperament and actions make him unfit to lead an agency that currently holds tens of thousands of immigrants, including many fleeing violence and many in long-term indefinite detention.
Kelly’s recent vow to end “political correctness” in U.S. national security policy is a thinly veiled endorsement of policies and practices that are illegal and immoral, including torture and racial and religious profiling. His statement is a clear warning sign, and the Senate must reject his nomination to preserve and protect the rule of law.
The Center for Constitutional Rights has led the legal battle over Guantánamo for 15 years – representing clients in two Supreme Court cases and organizing and coordinating hundreds of pro bono lawyers across the country, ensuring that all the men detained at Guantánamo have had the option of legal representation. CCR is responsible for many Guantánamo cases in many venues, representing men in their habeas cases in federal court and before the military commissions and Periodic Review Boards, the families of men who died at Guantánamo, and men who have been released and are seeking accountability in international courts.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.