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AFJ Opposes Blanket Ban on Transfer of Guantanamo Detainees for Criminal Prosecution

This morning the Senate introduced an omnibus spending bill for 2011 which includes a provision preventing Guantanamo detainees from being transferred to the U.S. – even for purposes of prosecution. This blanket ban would override the executive branch’s prerogative to decide the best forum to try suspected terrorists and prevent the Obama Administration from obtaining criminal prosecutions in federal courts. Under current law, Guantanamo detainees cannot be transferred to the United States, except for purposes of criminal prosecution.

Alliance for Justice recently joined a broad coalition of human rights organizations in signing a letter opposing a ban on blanket transfers. The letter pointed out that:

If a blanket ban on transfers were to become law, it would obstruct the Obama administration from bringing terrorism suspects to justice in the most experienced and proven forum. These are the very same federal courts that have been used by the Justice Department during the Bush and Obama administration to convict more than 400 individuals of terrorism‐related crimes since 9/11. The Federal Bureau of Prisons has also proven fully capable of securely detaining individuals convicted of the most serious crimes of terrorism, such as co‐conspiracy in the 9/11 attacks, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and the 1998 East African embassy bombings, without harm to the surrounding communities – and, of course, without escape.
. . .

If Congress imposes a blanket transfer ban, it would greatly hinder efforts to put to rest a legacy of failed detention policy. There is widespread agreement among our country’s leading national security and foreign policy experts – including General David Petraeus, General Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and five former Secretaries of State from both parties – that closing the Guantánamo Bay detention facility is essential to U.S. counterterrorism efforts and to repairing the standing of the United States as a country committed to human rights and the rule of law.
Alliance for Justice strongly opposes the blanket ban and urges Senators to vote against it.