For Immediate Release: December 8, 2010
Washington, DC – This evening, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by a slim majority a continuing resolution that would, if enacted, prevent the transfer of Guantanamo detainees into the United States for any purpose, including for prosecution. In response to the House vote, Elisa Massimino, President and CEO of Human Rights First, issued the following statement:
“Federal court trials have been the most effective means of ensuring justice in terrorism cases. Those who seek to prevent them from happening should understand that, should such an effort succeed, it is likely that the self-confessed architect of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil responsible for the deaths of 2,977 innocent people will go unpunished.
“Military commissions have proven to be an unreliable and deeply flawed scheme; they are rightly viewed with great skepticism around the world and have resulted in few convictions. Because Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other prisoners were tortured under the previous administration, much of the evidence that could have been used against them is inadmissible in any U.S. tribunal, military or civilian. Most detainees at Guantanamo who are suspected of having committed crimes against the United States cannot be tried by military commissions because the acts of which they are accused either are not war crimes or were not crimes triable by military commissions when they were committed. So attempts to prevent them from being brought before civilian courts are tantamount to obstructing justice in these cases altogether. Americans who want justice to be done and the perpetrators of these crimes held accountable should be outraged at short-sighted political games that would undermine that goal.
“The Senate should oppose any restrictions that put politics before American values and national security and hinder the President from bringing suspected terrorists to justice.”