Human Rights Groups Call on Obama to Shutter Guantanamo Bay on Day One
By Peter Finn
The future of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay barely registered in the campaign, but with the election over, advocacy groups are stepping up calls for the next administration -- with the assistance of U.S. allies --to shutter the controversial facility immediately.
The ACLU took out a full-page ad in the New York Times yesterday urging President-elect Obama to restore "America's moral leadership in the world" on day one of his administration by ordering the closure of the prison where about 255 detainees are currently held. The group also said in a press release that there is "no reason that Guantanamo detainees cannot be prosecuted in traditional U.S. criminal courts or military courts governed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice."
The Obama transition team yesterday denied news reports that it was considering a new national security court to handle some detainees -- and future captures -- who might be difficult to prosecute in federal court but who are regarded as too dangerous to release. The size, and even the existence, of a "not prosecutable, but dangerous" group has been at the heart of an escalating debate about the next administration's detention policy.
"There is absolutely no truth to reports that a decision has been made about how and where to try the detainees, and there is no process in place to make that decision until his national security and legal teams are assembled," said Denis McDonough, a senior foreign policy adviser for the transition team, in a statement.
Five human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, also called on European governments to take in detainees who have not been charged with any crime but who cannot be repatriated because of the fear they will be tortured if they are sent home. But any European largesse will likely only follow a decision by the Obama administration to re-settle some small group of detainees in the U.S., advocates said.
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