I authored the following piece to my Senators & Representative in support of the ACLU’s call to pass the Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007 & close the Guantanamo Bay prison.
As your constituent, I urge you to vote for the Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007 (S. 576/H.R. 1415), which will shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison, restore habeas corpus right to its detainees, and restore Constitutional safeguards against Presidential caprice in classifying “enemy combatants” and suspending rules of evidence, thereby starting the process of ending the indefinite detention without charges for the prisoners who have been there for years.
As you know from my previous messages, I oppose the practices, carried out in my name as a U.S. citizen, of indefinite detention, prisoner abuse, torture, and the suspension of habeas corpus that have been exposed at Guantanamo Bay and sanctioned by the Military Commissions Act.
Torture is not only inhumane and immoral, but largely ineffective, as admitted by the CIA, and supported by Georgetown University & Fairleigh Dickinson University studies, among others. Suspension of rights for detainees is un-American, representing a deeply nationalistic worldview in which only U.S. citizens deserve human rights, a view anathema to our country’s foundational belief that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”. In allowing the prison situation at Guantanamo to persist, we have taken another step backward from our international leadership on human rights issues and have ceded the high ground in challenging the human rights abuses of other nations.
The New York Times reports that even Secretary of Defense Robert Gates favors shutting down the Guantanamo Bay prison and transferring the prisoners to the U.S. Please support his view by passing the Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007 & working to expedite the judicial proceedings of prisoners still held there, punishing those deserving, and releasing those unjustly detained.
I also urge you to go beyond the proximate step of closing the Guantanamo Bay prison and restore habeas corpus rights by passing legislation like the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act (H.R. 267/S. 185).
American values dictate that all people in our custody should get basic protections: humane treatment, access to a lawyer and a court, the right to know the charges against them, a meaningful chance to prove their innocence, and finally, habeas corpus: the right to challenge one’s own unlawful imprisonment.
I’m sure you agree: it’s time to restore fairness and American values.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this matter.
Keith A. Gillette