January 12, 2016, New York – In response to the president’s State of the Union speech, in which he reiterated his pledge to close the prison at Guantánamo, the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents several men detained there for years without charge or trial, issued the following statement:
We’ve heard President Obama recommit to closing Guantánamo many times over the past three years. Yet the prison began its fifteenth year in existence yesterday, and by the last day of this month it will have been open for longer under this president than it was under President Bush.
If the president is truly serious about making progress towards closure of the prison, he should begin by instructing the Justice Department to concede that release is appropriate in court cases filed by cleared men, including our own client Tariq Ba Odah. That would allow him to release cleared men without violating Congress’ onerous transfer restrictions, which currently require approvals that have been notoriously slow in coming from the Pentagon.
A far greater problem, however, is that the president’s ultimate plan to close Guantánamo is simply to move the remaining men to one or more prisons in the United States, allowing the system of detention without charge to go on indefinitely. That is not “closure” of Guantánamo in any meaningful sense, and as long as it remains the president’s plan, no amount of frantic maneuvering this year will allow him to truly accomplish what he promised when he first ran for president.
CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo for 14 years – representing clients in two Supreme Court cases and organizing and coordinating hundreds of pro bono lawyers across the country to represent the men at Guantanamo, ensuring that nearly all have the option of legal representation. Among other Guantánamo cases, the Center represents the families of men who died at Guantánamo, and men who have been released and are seeking justice in international and domestic courts.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.