Challenging Trump’s Guantánamo

Since the Guantánamo Bay prison opened in 2002, the Center for Constitutional Rights has represented dozens of current and former prisoners. We have led the legal fight to preserve essential principles of our democracy and Constitution - human rights, the rule of law, due process, and habeas corpus - and reject the idea that the United States could capture nearly 800 Muslim men and render them to an offshore island beyond the law and public scrutiny. We work to hold those responsible for torture and war crimes accountable to not only bring a measure of justice to victims, but because it is an essential step to deter future government officials from committing serious human rights violations.

On January 11, 2020, the Guantánamo Bay prison will have been open for 18 years. There is now an entire generation that has only ever known a world in which the offshore prison exists. A prison built exclusively for Muslim men. A prison that detains people indefinitely without charge or a fair trial.

The prison has now spanned three administrations and five presidential terms. Both Presidents Bush and Obama collectively released over seven hundred prisoners and believed Guantánamo’s continued operation weakened our national security. However, Trump has been explicit about his desire to keep the prison open, and maintains the possibility of transferring new terror suspects to the island prison. Under the current administration, the future is even more uncertain for the forty “forever prisoners” who remain.

Within the U.S. and abroad, Guantánamo is a symbol of physical and psychological torture and the United States’ post-9/11 embrace of lawlessness and injustice. Now in its second decade, it also reflects the larger cruelty of the U.S. carceral society.

In 2018, CCR and co-counsel filed the first major challenge to Trump’s Guantánamo policies, in federal court in Washington, DC. This collective filing is on behalf of eleven prisoners who are detained without charge, all for more than a decade. In this court filing, we argue that the petitioners’ perpetual detentions violate the Constitution and the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and are undergirded by the president’s executive hubris and anti-Muslim animus. We have asked the court to intervene on behalf of the men who have been deemed “forever prisoners.” In August, a district court judge issued a decision denying the motion on behalf of Abdul Razak Ali, and we have appealed that decision arguing that the Due Process clause of the Constitution applies at Guantánamo. The motion is currently pending for the other ten petitioners.


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Last modified 

January 9, 2020