Amnesty International Responds to President Obama's Speech on National Security

Press Release
May 23, 2013

Amnesty International Responds to President Obama's Speech on National Security

Contact: Elaine Monaghan, Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications, elaine@rabinowitz-dorf.com, 202.265.3000

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – President Obama was right to reaffirm the need to close Guantanamo, address the need for greater transparency, and acknowledge the troubling issues surrounding his killer drone program. Now it's time for him to take immediate and further action and get the job done.

Transfers can and must resume today, and all detainees must either be fairly tried in federal court or released. President Obama was right not to endorse the concept of indefinite detention, but his proposal to restart unfair military commissions in the mainland U.S. should be rejected as both unlawful and unnecessary.

What's needed on drones is not a "kill court," but critically, much more transparency regarding the legal basis for the drones program, including the release of the newly approved presidential guidance as well as independent investigations of alleged extrajudicial executions and remedy for victims.

There's no need to wait to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force. The Obama administration should immediately end reliance on the flawed "global war" legal theory at the heart of indefinite detention, military commissions and the killing of terror suspects and civilians alike.

Congress must stop hindering reform. Elected officials should repeal the remaining legislative obstacles to closing the detention facility and make the Senate report on CIA torture public.

President Obama is right that the country is at a crossroads. It's time for the path not chosen over a decade ago. It's time for human rights.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize- winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists, and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth, and dignity are denied.