Funding Bill Threatens Fair Trials for Detainees

December 15, 2010


The Senate is about to vote on an omnibus spending bill which includes a provision that would represent a major setback to the fight for human rights at Guantanamo. The provision bars the spending of federal funds to move any detainee – including Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – from Guantanamo to the US for any purpose, including trial, through September 2011.

The House passed the measure last week, even though most members did not realize the Guantanamo provision was part of the huge spending bill.

The Obama administration has opposed the measure. Last week Attorney General Eric Holder called the provision:

“an extreme and risky encroachment on the authority of the executive branch to determine when and where to prosecute terrorist subjects.”

This bill would stop the US from bringing terrorism suspects to justice in federal courts — the most experienced and proven forum. These are the very same federal courts that used by the Justice Department during the Bush and Obama administrations to convict more than 400 individuals of terrorism‐related crimes since 9/11. Only last month Guantanamo detainee Ahmed Ghailani was successfully convicted in a free and fair trial and will likely be jailed for the rest of his life.

Amnesty is not alone in calling on the Senate to vote against this provision. Last week a group of 17 military leaders wrote Congress, urging them “to oppose any restrictions proposed for inclusion in the fiscal year 2011 funding bill that would put politics before American values and national security and hinder the President from bringing suspected terrorists to justice.”

And many of our country’s leading national security and foreign policy experts – including General David Petraeus, General Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and five former Secretaries of State from both parties – believe that closing the Guantánamo Bay detention facility is essential to U.S. counterterrorism efforts.

There’s still time for us to pressure the Senate and block this provision, but we need you to call your Senators right now and urge them to oppose it. You can reach your Senators by calling the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 or email them here.

Here is a suggested message for you to personalize: “I am calling/writing to urge you to oppose a provision in the 2011 Omnibus Appropriations bill to block Guantanamo detainees from coming to the US mainland for prosecution. This provision would further erode the US government’s record on human rights. I support fair trials in US federal courts for Guantanamo detainees charged with crimes, and I oppose military commissions and indefinite detention, as these practices violate human rights. Thank you.”

Please tell us about the message you sent to your Senators in the comments!

Want to do more to close Guantanamo? Take action with us in January to mark the detention facility’s 9th anniversary.