For Immediate Release: April 13, 2011
Washington, DC – Today as the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations holds a hearing on “Guantanamo Transfer Policy and Recidivism,” Human Rights First is calling on committee members to reconsider transfer restrictions that impeded President Obama’s ability to close the prison and hold accused terrorists accountable for their crimes in federal court. The group is also criticizing indefinite detention practices and what it considers questionable recidivism rate data put forth by the Department of Defense.
Major General William L. Nash, USA (Ret.) notes that whatever recidivism risk is presented by transferring Guantanamo detainees out of the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo is minimal compared to the substantial costs of an indefinite detention policy. Ahead of today’s hearing, he noted, “Releasing a handful of foot soldiers back to their homes does not increase any marginal risk to U.S. operations. Keeping someone in prison that we do not have any reason to do so, on the other hand, does, because it gives Al Qaeda propaganda tools used to fill their coffers with new recruits. We must cease focusing on recidivism numbers that are flimsy at best, and focus on ways to disincentivize terror recruiting.”
Human Rights First’s Dixon Osburn adds that indefinite detention practices coupled with restrictions that forbid the transfer of current detainees from to the United States for trial in federal courts block one of the nation’s most effective tools for incapacitating terrorists. He states, “The bedrock principle of the U.S. justice system is that men are innocent until proven guilty. We cannot imprison men solely out of fear that they will do harm in the future. The United States continues to hold men the government has determined should be released. That cannot stand. Congress should focus on how to mitigate the risk of any potential release, but not obstruct justice.”
For more information, view Human Rights First’s fact sheet “Guantanamo Transfer Restrictions undermine National Security.” To speak with General Nash or Mr. Osburn, contact Brenda Bowser Soder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-370-3323.