For Immediate Release: January 9, 2012
Washington, DC – Twenty-five of the nation’s most respected retired generals and admirals, most of whom stood with the President in the Oval Office as he signed an Executive Order to shutter the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, today urged the President to fulfill that 2009 pledge and close the “notorious detention center once and for all.” Their call comes in a letter sent to the President just two days before the facility’s 10th anniversary.
“We understand the political opposition you have faced in closing Guantanamo, but you too bear responsibility for failing to do so,” wrote the retired generals and admirals. “Your policy of holding detainees indefinitely, perhaps forever, without charge or trial, not only stands in the way of closing Guantanamo, but is insupportable in a nation of laws.”
The generals and admirals signing today’s letter have long noted that the Guantanamo Bay detention facility is a tragic stain on America’s reputation for impartial and transparent justice. They note that it has harmed America’s reputation around the world and that the military commissions that take place there have led some countries to now refuse to extradite terrorists or share intelligence with the United States. The group went on to note that closing the facility is matter of national security because it is frequently used as a recruiting tool for Al-Qaeda.
The group wrote, “Terrorists aim to sow fear, and thereby to cause us to change who we are,” adding, “In the war of ideals, we can only lose if we forfeit ours.”
The letter’s signatories are part of a larger group of retired generals and admirals who speak out against torture and work to ensure that U.S. policy reflects a single standard of prisoner treatment consistent with the Geneva Conventions. The group formed over concerns about the treatment of enemy prisoners in U.S. custody after learning of the abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. In 2008, they shared their insights with eight Presidential candidates from both parties that torture does immense harm to the reputation of the United States and undermines efforts to combat terrorism. President Obama was among the candidates with whom they met. He later made the closure of Guantanamo Bay one of his signature promises of the 2008 presidential campaign.
“We know that you have tried over the past three years to fulfill the important promises you made to the American people in your first days in office,” the letter concluded. “But this is a fight that you and our nation cannot afford to lose.”