Congressman Jim Moran, Virginia Democrat, fired off a letter to President Bush today, calling on the administration to work with Congress to reverse course on the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, immediately closing it and transferring detainees to U.S. military prisons.
"Guantanamo is anathema to our values as a nation, governed by the rule of law," said Moran. "Its continued operation undermines our efforts to combat terrorism, providing psychological ammunition for those bent on doing us harm. In recent weeks, the President and his administration have been giving signals that they are rethinking their Guantanamo policy. This letter makes clear there is strong support in the House for a new way forward on Guantanamo and our current, detrimental detainment policies."
The Moran letter has been signed by over 140 members of the House of Representatives including: Reps. Abercrombie, Ackerman, Allen, Andrews (NJ), Arcuri, Becerra, Baldwin, Brady (PA), Bishop (GA), Bishop (NY), Blumenauer, Bordallo, Boucher, Braley, Brown (FL), Capps, Capuano, Carson, Christensen, Clarke, Clay, Cleaver, Clyburn, Cohen, Conyers, Courtney, Crowley, Cummings, Davis (IL), DeFazio, DeGette, Delahunt, DeLauro, Dicks, Doggett, Doyle, Ellison, Emanuel, Eshoo, Farr, Fattah, Filner, Frank, Giffords, Gonzalez, Grijalva, Gutierrez, Hall, Hare, Harman, Higgins, Hirono, Hinchey, Hodes, Holt, Honda, Hoyer, Inslee, Israel, Jackson-Lee, Jefferson, E.B. Johnson (TX), H. Johnson (GA), Jones (OH), W. Jones (NC), Kagen, Kanjorski, Kaptur, Kennedy (RI), Kildee, Kilpatrick, Kind, Kucinich, Lantos, J. Larson (CT), R. Larson (WA), Lee, Levin, Lewis (GA), Loebsack, Lofgren, Lowey, C. McCarthy (NY), McCollum, McDermott, McGovern, Maloney, Markey, Meehan, Meeks, Michaud, George Miller (CA), Moore (WI), C. Murphy (CT), Nadler, Napolitano, Neal, Norton, Oberstar, Obey, Olver, Pallone, Pascrell, Pastor, Payne, Perlmutter, D. Price (NC), Roybal-Allard, Rangel, Rahall, Rothman, Ryan, Linda Sanchez, Schakowsky, Schiff, Schwartz, D. Scott (GA), R. Scott (VA), Serrano, Shea-Porter, Sires, Slaughter, Solis, Stark, Sutton, Tierney, B. Thompson (MS), M. Thompson (CA), Towns, M. Udall (CO), T. Udall (NM), Van Hollen, Velazquez, Visclosky, Walz, Waters, Watson, Waxman, Weiner, Welch, Wexler, Woolsey, Wu, Wynn.
Currently, 375 detainees are being held at Guantanamo, many of which have been in detention for over five years. Since the facility opened in 2002, only ten of the over 700 detainees that have been held in Guantanamo have been charged with a crime. More detainees have committed suicide (four) than have had a hearing before a military commission (three) at Guantanamo.
In the recent House passed FY'08 Defense Authorization bill (H.R. 1585), Moran successfully inserted an amendment requiring the Department of Defense to prepare a plan for transferring detainees out of the Guantanamo facility. U.S. military brigs at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas and Charleston, S.C. have been identified by military officials as locations where detainees could be securely held while awaiting trial or transfer to their country of origin.
The letter being sent to the President is below:
June 29, 2007
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Recent reports in the media have suggested that your administration is now considering reversing its position to keep open the detention facilities at Joint Task Force-Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO). If accurate, we applaud the decision.
Since the time that captured "enemy combatants" were first brought to Guantanamo Bay in 2002, the detainment facility has undermined America's image as the model of justice and protector of human rights around the world. Holding prisoners for an indefinite period of time, without charging them with a crime goes against our values, ideals and principles as a nation governed by the rule of law. Further, Guantanamo Bay has a become a liability in the broader global war on terror, as allegations of torture, the indefinite detention of innocent men, and international objections to the treatment of enemy combatants has hurt our credibility as the beacon for freedom and justice. Its continued operation also threatens the safety of U.S. citizens and military personnel detained abroad.
The House-passed National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 (H.R. 1585) included a provision requiring the Secretary of Defense to develop a plan to transfer detainees from Guantanamo Bay. United States military barracks have the capability to provide for the secure detainment of foreign nationals while ensuring the safety of communities within their proximate geographic location. Further, the military locations afford on-site access to military courtrooms for the timely adjudication of all legal proceedings.
The closure of the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay would represent a positive first step toward restoring our international reputation as the leader of democracy and individual rights. We also feel that it is necessary to restore the right of habeas corpus to the detainees. This will allow for the implementation of fair and transparent trials to bring enemies of our country to justice.
The global war on terror cannot be won through military might alone. It is a war of ideas and philosophies. A liability of our own creation, the existence of the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay is defeating our effort to ensure that the principles of freedom, justice and human rights are spread throughout the world.
We look forward to working with you on what we hope is a shared objective to close the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay.
James P. Moran