August 14, 2015, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba – Today, the Obama administration filed under seal its response to a Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) motion seeking the immediate release from Guantánamo, on medical grounds, of Tariq Ba Odah, who has been on hunger strike since February 2007 and now weighs 75 lbs. Ba Odah’s lawyer, CCR Staff Attorney Omar Farah, issued the following statement:
Because today’s filing is under seal, we cannot comment on its substance. However, we are deeply disappointed by this secret filing. It is a transparent attempt to hide the fact that the Obama administration’s interagency process for closing Guantánamo is an incoherent mess, and it is plainly intended to conceal the inconsistency between the administration’s stated intention to close Guantánamo and the steps taken to transfer cleared men. The administration simply wants to avoid public criticism and accountability.
It is also unnecessary. There is nothing sensitive about this pivotal moment that needs to be withheld from the public. Mr. Ba Odah’s grave medical condition is not in dispute. Given that he has been cleared since 2009, there is no dispute about whether he should be approved for transfer. All the president has to decide is whether to exercise his discretion not to contest the motion and release Mr. Ba Odah so that he does not die.
The Center for Constitutional Rights has led the legal battle over Guantánamo for more than 13 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 Guantanamo 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.