February 9, 2012, New York – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement in response to the release of a report on detainees released from Guantánamo by the Republican members of the Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee. Democratic members refused to sign because, as committee member Jim Cooper stated, “the public report uses a highly problematic ‘methodology’ in order to write ghost stories designed to scare voters.”
Despite the obvious political points this rehash of a report tries to score it merely confirms that, other than one or two sensationalistic stories, the overwhelming majority of transfers out of Guantánamo have resulted in no harm, let alone harm to the United States. And nothing in the partisan report suggests that the 89 men who have been cleared for release by unanimous agreement of the Defense Department, FBI and intelligence agencies should not be released.In fact, the report underscores what advocates for the detained men have been saying for a long time, that recidivism rates are low and the cleared men can be safely transferred out of Guantánamo.The committee met with experts in the field who provided large amounts of additional data that the committee chose to ignore because it did not fit its narrative; instead it cherry-picked anecdotes designed to alarm the public. As Democratic committee members explained, the GOP committee members engaged in a deeply flawed and partisan process and failed to give the Defense Department or State Department sufficient time to review its findings.This is another in a long string of discredited reports on hazily defined recidivism that provide no names or concrete allegations. In the past, when names were made public they turned out to include men whose “return to the battlefield” consisted of participating in documentaries about Guantánamo or complaining of their abuse to New York Times reporters. The government’s record on these matters has shown that we cannot accept these kinds of claims at face value.If this report is the best the GOP can do after a year-long investigation, then the recidivism myth is conclusively debunked— this report is the nail in that coffin.The report seeks to prevent any further transfers out of the prison camp despite the findings of the interagency task force that cleared 89 of the remaining 171 men at the base. Not only can these men can be transferred out, but after 10 long years they must be.The fact remains that the vast majority of the men at Guantanamo should never have been detained in the first place and a great injustice has been done to them. Hundreds of men have now been released and are peacefully rebuilding their lives. Rather than fueling fear, the government should be making sure the remaining men who have been wrongfully detained are quickly repatriated or resettled, and, notwithstanding poll numbers or focus groups, that Guantánamo is closed.
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.