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ACTION ALERT: Obama Plans to Close Guantanamo as Amnesty Action Calls for Public Pressure


November 12, 2008
Matt Apuzzo & Lara Jakes Jordan / Associated Press & Amnesty International

President-elect Barack Obama's advisers are crafting plans to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and prosecute terrorism suspects in the US a plan that the Bush administration said was easier said than done. Meanwhile, Amnesty International has announced a "100 Days Campaign" to restore America's commitment to human rights by (1) closing Gitmo, (2) banning government torture, and (3) creating a commission to investigate human rights crimes committed by the government.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/11/11/MNA9141NG6.DTL

Obama Advisers Plan to shut Guantanamo Prison
Matt Apuzzo & Lara Jakes Jordan / Associated Press

WASHINGTON (November 11, 2008) — President-elect Barack Obama's advisers are crafting plans to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and prosecute terrorism suspects in the United States, a plan that the Bush administration said Monday was easier said than done.

Under the plan being crafted inside Obama's camp, some detainees would be released and others would be charged in U.S. courts, where they would receive constitutional rights and open trials. But, underscoring the difficult decisions Obama must make to fulfill his pledge of shutting down Guantanamo, the plan could require the creation of a new legal system to handle the classified information inherent in some of the most sensitive cases.

Advisers participating directly in the planning spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans aren't final.

Many of the about 250 Guantanamo detainees are cleared for release, but the Bush administration has not been able to find a country willing to take them.

The plan being developed by Obama's team has been championed by legal scholars from both parties. But as details surfaced Monday, it drew criticism from Democrats who oppose creating a new legal system and from Republicans who oppose bringing terrorism suspects to the mainland.

The move would mark a sharp change from Bush administration policies, which established military tribunals to prosecute detainees at the Navy base in Cuba and strongly opposes bringing prisoners to the United States. At the White House, spokeswoman Dana Perino said Monday that President Bush has faced many challenges in trying to close the prison.

"We've tried very hard to explain to people how complicated it is. When you pick up people off the battlefield that have a terrorist background, it's not just so easy to let them go," Perino said. "These issues are complicated, and we have put forward a process that we think would work in order to put them on trial through military tribunals."

But Obama has been critical of that process, and his legal advisers said finding an alternative will be a top priority. One of those advisers, Harvard law Professor Laurence Tribe, acknowledges that bringing detainees to the United States would be controversial, but said it could be accomplished.

"I think the answer is going to be, they can be as securely guarded on U.S. soil as anywhere else," Tribe said. "We can't put people in a dungeon forever without processing whether they deserve to be there."

The tougher challenge will be allaying fears by Democrats who believe the Bush administration's military commissions were a farce and dislike the idea of giving detainees anything less than the full constitutional rights normally enjoyed by everyone on U.S. soil.

"I think that creating a new alternative court system in response to the abject failure of Guantanamo would be a profound mistake," Jonathan Hafetz, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who represents detainees, said Monday. "We do not need a new court system. The last eight years are a testament to the problems of trying to create new systems."

An Obama administration will want to avoid the criticisms that have marked the Bush administration's military commissions. Human rights groups and defense attorneys have condemned the commissions for lax evidence rules and intense secrecy. Some military prosecutors have quit in protest.

Prosecuting all detainees in federal courts raises many problems. Evidence gathered through military interrogation or from intelligence sources might be thrown out. Defendants would have the right to confront witnesses, meaning undercover CIA officers or terrorist turncoats might have to take the stand, jeopardizing their cover and revealing classified intelligence tactics.

That means something different would need to be done if detainees couldn't be released or prosecuted in traditional courts. Exactly what remains unclear.

According to three advisers participating in the process, Obama is expected to propose a new court system and may appoint a committee to decide how such a court would operate. Some detainees probably would be returned to the countries where they were first captured for further detention or rehabilitation. The rest probably could be prosecuted in U.S. criminal courts, one adviser said.

One challenge will be figuring out what to do with the 90 or so Yemeni prisoners. The Bush administration has sought to negotiate the release of some of them as part of a rehabilitation plan with the Yemeni government. But talks have so far been fruitless.

© 2008 Hearst Communications Inc.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.



Take Action to Close Guantanamo!
Amnesty International

The world is waiting to hear from the America we believe in. That's why it's so critical that we act immediately to reverse the damage of the last seven years.

Urge President-elect Obama to take 3 crucial actions to renew America's commitment to human rights.

Last week's election signaled a turning tide. But as President-elect Obama made clear, all we have is a chance for change.

Change will only come if we act: send a message to President-elect Obama to recommit America to human rights.

Today we launch our 100 days campaign. Our goal is to make it clear that there can be no genuine renewal in America without a renewed commitment to human rights. During his first 100 days in office, Amnesty International is urging President-elect Obama to take three crucial actions:

• announce a plan and date to close Guantánamo;

• issue an executive order to ban torture and other ill-treatment, as defined under international law;

• setup an independent commission to investigate abuses committed by the US government in its "war on terror."

There is much more that needs to happen, but we believe these three concrete actions are crucial to resetting America's course and to letting the world hear from the America we believe in. See the rest of our checklist for President-elect Obama's first 100 days in office.

Urge President-elect Obama to take these important first steps. Take Action Now!

Do not doubt the power of your action. The same grassroots energy that propeled Barack Obama to victory can now be the driving force behind America's renewed commitment to human rights. And, because the impact of bold action on human rights can and must be heard around the world, Amnesty's 100 Days effort is global in its reach.

As you send your letter, millions like you in every continent will be doing the same, from Australia, to Great Britain, to France and Japan.

Join us. Take action now and urge President-elect Obama to take these important first steps.

PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA:
SHOW REAL LEADERSHIP IN HUMAN RIGHTS


The attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, were a crime against humanity. Since then, the U.S. government has committed grave human rights violations in the name of countering terrorism.

Suspects have been abducted and covertly transported to secret U.S.-run facilities or transferred to the custody of other governments where they have faced torture. Individuals have been victims of enforced disappearance. Some remain unaccounted for. Hundreds of people have been unlawfully detained in conditions that have amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility.

U.S. officials have effectively admitted that the U.S. government has used torture and other ill-treatment and have reserved the right to do so again.

The response of the U.S. government to the public exposure of these human rights violations has been plainly inadequate, and at worst it has amounted to helping perpetrators go unpunished for crimes under international law.
» Read more about our 100 Days challenge to President-elect Obama

TAKE ACTION
President-elect Barack Obama must take immediate steps after taking office to end this assault on human rights. Sign our petition to President-elect Barack Obama and urge him to demonstrate a commitment to human rights in his first 100 days in office:


Dear President-elect Barack Obama,

I urge you as president to change the government’s course on human rights and to reverse the damage done by the U.S. government’s actions in the name of national security.

I call on you to demonstrate your commitment to justice by:

• Announcing the timeline to close Guantánamo
• Issuing an executive order to ban torture and other ill-treatment as defined under international law
• Ensuring that an independent inquiry into the USA’s detention and interrogation practices in its “war on terror” is set up

These are three key steps on Amnesty International’s checklist for your first 100 days in office.

You can counter terror with justice. We are counting on you.

Sincerely,
And stay tuned. This is but a first step in our 100 days campaign. Be sure to get more information about the other items on our checklist for the new president.

Sincerely,
Larry Cox, Executive Director, Amnesty International USA



PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA: 100 DAYS TO DEMONSTRATE COMMITMENT TO HUMAN RIGHTS
Amnesty International

(November 5, 2008) — Amnesty International urges U.S. President-elect Barack Obama to make human rights central to his new administration. The organization is calling for certain concrete steps in his first 100 days in office that would demonstrate a genuine commitment to bringing the United States into line with its international obligations.

The new president will have the authority to rectify some of the unlawful policies and practices adopted during his predecessor’s term in office in the name of counter-terrorism and national security.

COUNTER TERROR WITH JUSTICE: A HUMAN RIGHTS CHALLENGE
In the first 100 days, Amnesty International is calling on the new administration to:

• announce a plan and date to close Guantanamo;

• issue an executive order to ban torture and other ill-treatment, as defined under international law;

• ensure that an independent commission to investigate abuses committed by the U.S. government in its "war on terror" is set up.

These demands are part of a "checklist" of actions Amnesty International is asking the new U.S. President to take during the first 100 days in office.

PROMOTING HUMAN RIGHTS AT HOME AND ABROAD
Amnesty International has numerous human rights concerns in relation to the United States. The organization is seeking a meeting with President-elect Obama to discuss how the United States will take forward policies that will advance internationally recognized human rights both at home and abroad.

TAKE ACTION
Call on President-elect Barack Obama to demonstrate a commitment to human rights in his first 100 days in office.

Take other important actions to end human rights abuses by the U.S. government in its "war on terror."

TAKE ACTION ON OTHER IMPORTANT HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES
• End the crisis in Darfur
• EStop violence against women
• EProtect individuals at risk
• EAbolish the death penalty



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