Executive Orders Anniversary is Opportunity to Examine Guantanamo, Torture
(Washington, DC January 20, 2010) Two days before the one year anniversary of President Barack Obama's Executive Orders to ban torture and close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a number of Congressional committees will hold hearings focused on key national security questions, including steps to combat terrorism. As the hearings commence, Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino today offered the following statement:
"During the past year, the United States has taken great strides toward regaining its moral authority and restoring its standing as a leader in human rights and the law. President Obama's orders to end the use of torture and shutter the Guantanamo detention facility have played key roles in this effort and continue to strengthen both national security and our nation's ties to foreign allies.
"As Congress and the Administration look ahead to the coming months, they must focus on fulfilling the promises of the President's Executive Orders and turning the page on shameful practices that left our troops and our nation more vulnerable to attack. They must work together to close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, to try accused terrorists in federal courts, and to drive the number of indefinitely detained detainees down to zero. The Administration must also press ahead in identifying countries willing to receive detainees who have been cleared for release and work with nations like Yemen to establish effective risk management procedures.
"With regard to torture, the Administration must crystallize its plans for the High Value Interrogation Group and set forth policies that are in line with the nation's commitment to upholding the Constitution and international human rights laws that govern interrogation practices.
"Our Constitution, our courts, and our commitment to human rights are the keys to addressing the national security concerns we face today."