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Ask Obama to Let Human Rights Groups Independently Examine Conditions at Guantanamo

By Anthony Romero, ACLU  Posted by Kathryn Smith (about the submitter)     Permalink
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Dear Opednews editors:
This message below came as an email from the ACLU with the understanding that it can and should be forwarded. Therefore reprinting should be okay. I have verified that, contrary to the objections of a previous editor, the print below is in arial and not in verdana, and therefore should be accepted by Opednews. Thank you, Kathryn Smith 

Dear ACLU Supporter,

On Tuesday night, President Obama spoke emphatically about torture and Guantánamo Bay, telling the American people that "living our values doesn't make us weaker, it makes us safer and it makes us stronger."

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It is certainly encouraging when President Obama expresses his commitment to civil liberties and human rights. But, it is troubling when some in his Administration do not align their actions with the President's words.

For example, the Pentagon has just issued a report concluding that the infamous, abuse-ridden prison facility at Guantánamo complies with the humanitarian requirements of the Geneva Conventions.

After all the years of torture, indefinite detention and lawlessness, the Pentagon's conclusions, based on its own say-so, are hard to believe. How can the detention facilities that are a global symbol of long-standing human rights abuses be compliant with the Geneva Conventions? And how can we take the Pentagon's word for it?

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We can't. That's why an independent review of the conditions at Guantánamo is essential as we work to restore our reputation in the world. Ask President Obama to grant the ACLU and other human rights groups full access to the prison to independently examine conditions there and to adhere to U.S. human rights treaty obligations.

Ask President Obama to let human rights groups independently examine conditions at Guantánamo Bay.

This suspect Pentagon report is one in a series of instances in which the government's actions seem not to have caught up with the President's ideals. In recent weeks, we have seen the Justice Department:
  • Repeat the Bush administration's "state secrets" claim -- blocking victims of torture from getting their day in court in a critical ACLU extraordinary rendition case.
  • Tell a federal court that military detainees held at Bagram Air Force base in Afghanistan have no legal right to challenge their detention.
  • Move forward with the Bush administration's last-minute effort to deny Mohammed Jawad -- a Guantánamo prisoner who has been held in U.S. custody since he was a teenager -- the chance to challenge his unlawful detention.
And now, we have the Pentagon claim that Guantánamo Bay meets humanitarian standards laid out in the Geneva Conventions.

We can't allow any administration to invoke state secrets to hide a reprehensible history of torture, rendition and the most grievous human rights violations.

We need the entire government to act as one -- moving swiftly and boldly to reverse the un-American practices of the Bush administration.

Urge the President to permit the ACLU and other rights groups to independently review conditions at Guantánamo Bay.

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Thank you for acting on this urgent request and for continuing to work with the ACLU to mark a new era of commitment to human rights through the total dismantling of the Bush system of injustice.


Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director


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