March 3, 2011, New York—Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which represents Guantánamo detainees and coordinates the work of hundreds of pro bono attorneys on legal cases and resettlement efforts, issued the following statement:
Today a conservative interest group called Judicial Watch announced that it received documents from the Department of Defense that prove the men detained at Guantánamo cannot be released without endangering the public. But this handful of Bush and Rumsfeld era documents does nothing more than reflect old Bush administration talking points, repeating unsubstantiated propaganda about the dangerousness of detained men, which history has shown to be false. Like all the other preceding reports about the danger of releasing detained men, these documents lack any specific and concrete information, and from experience we know that they cannot be trusted.
The fact is that the vast majority of the men at Guantánamo should never have been detained in the first place and that a great injustice has been done to them. Hundreds of men have now been released and are peacefully rebuilding their lives.
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, a senior State Department official who served in the Bush administration between 2002-2005, stated in a federal court declaration that the Bush administration knew early on that the majority of the men at Guantánamo were wrongfully detained, but did not release them because of political concerns that doing so could harm the government’s push for war.
The prison at Guantánamo has now entered its tenth year of operation, and indefinite detention without charge or trial remains as illegitimate today as it did on the first day of the prison’s operation. All the men still detained at Guantánamo must either be charged and tried in a fair court, or released to countries where they can safely rebuild their lives.
CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo for the last nine years – sending the first ever habeas attorney to the base and sending the first attorney to meet with an individual transferred from CIA “ghost detention” to Guantanamo. CCR has been responsible for organizing and coordinating more than 500 pro bono lawyers across the country to represent the men at Guantanamo, ensuring that nearly all have the option of legal representation. In addition, CCR has been working to resettle the approximately 30 men who remain at Guantánamo because they cannot return to their country of origin for fear of persecution and torture.
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.