CCR Attorneys Praise Gitmo Closure Plan, Caution Need for DOD to Get on Board

New York – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) released the following statement in response to a front-page story in The Washington Post about the Obama administration’s plans to close the Guantanamo prison camp:

We are encouraged by the Obama administration’s restated commitment to closing the prison before the president leaves office, but are concerned that the Pentagon is working against closure and that the White House is being too slow to respond.

The Pentagon is doing just barely enough to look busy but not enough to achieve actual closure as ordered by the president. Transfers arranged long ago reportedly sit on desks at the Pentagon gathering dust; officials there were supposed to pick up the pace of the Periodic Review Boards that determine whether the remaining men can be cleared and transferred, yet the next PRB isn’t scheduled until June.

The White House must wake up to what is happening and keep pressure on the DOD to ensure momentum on transfers. It must also appoint a new special envoy at the State Department – a post that has been vacant since the beginning of this year – to keep the pressure on.

After representing the men at Guantanamo for more than 13 years, we try to remain optimistic that the prison will close, but it is increasingly difficult to give our clients – including Fahd Ghazy, Ghaleb Al-Bihani, Mohammed Al Hamiri, and Tariq Ba Odah, all of whom have been cleared for transfer, some for years – real hope that they will ever be released.

The Center for Constitutional Rights has led the legal battle over Guantánamo for more than 13 years – representing clients in two Supreme Court cases and organizing and coordinating hundreds of pro bono lawyers across the country, ensuring that all the men detained at Guantánamo have had the option of legal representation. CCR is responsible for many Guantanamo cases in many venues, representing men in their habeas cases in federal court and before the military commissions and Periodic Review Boards, the families of men who died at Guantánamo, and men who have been released and are seeking accountability in international courts.