New York, NY – In light of confirmation hearings beginning today for Senator Chuck Hagel to be President Obama’s next Secretary of Defense, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement:
In 2005, Senator Hagel publicly opposed the prison at Guantánamo, stating that it was one reason why the United States was “losing the image war around the world.” As the next Defense Secretary, he will be directly responsible for overseeing Guantanamo’s closure and will have the opportunity to fulfill the promise President Obama made to citizens here and abroad, to end this shameful chapter in our history. The Senate Armed Services Committee should seize this occasion to press Senator Hagel to reaffirm his commitment to shutter the prison once and for all. The Committee should ask Senator Hagel:
– How he will implement the closure of Guantánamo under the mechanisms set forth in the National Defense Authorization Act,
– How he will facilitate the transfer of all detainees whom the Administration has no intention of charging, and
– Whether he will continue to pursue the irredeemably flawed military commissions process rather than provide men with fair trials through a tested and established system of justice.
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The Center for Constitutional Rights has led the legal battle over Guantánamo for the last 11 years – representing clients in two Supreme Court cases and organizing and coordinating hundreds of pro bono lawyers across the country, ensuring that nearly all the men detained at Guantánamo have had the option of legal representation. Among other Guantánamo cases, the Center represents the families of men who died at Guantánamo, and men who have been released and are seeking justice in international courts. In addition, CCR has been working through diplomatic channels to resettle men who remain at Guantánamo because they cannot return to their country of origin for fear of persecution and torture.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.