On September 6, the President announced that 14 accused masterminds of the 9/11 attacks and other acts of terrorism had been transferred from secret CIA prisons to Guantanamo to await trial. He asked Congress to enact legislation to authorize the creation of military commissions to try these individuals and perhaps many others as well.
The Center for American Progress applauds the President’s long-overdue decision to acknowledge the existence of secret CIA facilities and to bring those held there to trial. It should not have taken five years to do so.
Ignoring the advice of military leaders, the President set up a deeply flawed system that failed to prosecute a single terrorist and was ultimately struck down by the Supreme Court.
Unfortunately, he has not learned from his mistakes and seems determined to repeat them. The bill he sent to Congress would once again bypass a military justice system that is one of the fairest and most efficient in the world for a makeshift system that retains many of the same flaws identified by the Supreme Court. The President said he wants to bring “closure” to the families of the victims of 9/11, yet this scheme can only lead to further delays and uncertainty. Even if convictions are won, they will lack credibility in the eyes of the world.
Most dangerous of all are provisions that put our men and women in uniform at risk by seeking to undercut the Geneva Conventions. The bill creates loopholes that permit abusive conduct toward enemy captives and it retroactively grants immunity from prosecution to those who have participated in such misconduct.
We urge the House and Senate not to adopt this reckless legislation and to take the time to get it right.
Read the letter sent today to the Senate, and this letter sent to the House by the Center for American Progress Action Fund to members of the House and Senate expressing concerns about this legislation.
- Letter from former senior military leaders on the threat to the Geneva Conventions
- Letter from General Colin Powell to Senator John McCain
- Letter from General John Vessey to Senator John McCain
- Letter from former Admirals on the threat to judicial review
- Letter from former active-duty Army Interrogators to the Committee on the Armed Services
- Letter from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to Senators.
- Letter from former judges to Congress
- Letter from the families of 9/11 victims to Congress