Guantanamo Detainees To Be Moved to Illinois Prison

President Obama will announce today that the Guantanamo detainees will be moved to Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois. (Background here.)

That's a good thing. As the Constitution Project reminds us though, the move must not be used as an excuse for indefinite definitions without charges.

“There is broad bipartisan support for the use of federal prisons to hold Guantanamo detainees who are facing charges or have been convicted in federal court,” said Virginia Sloan, president of the Constitution Project. “Former members of Congress and U.S. Attorneys from Illinois, a former federal judge and influential conservatives all agree that U.S. prisons have the proven track record to successfully hold these men and protect the surrounding communities.

But that support quickly evaporates if the administration’s plan is to hold suspected terrorists under a ‘prolonged detention’ policy that runs counter to our most basic constitutional principles.”

Here is a bi-partisan declaration supporting the trial of Gitmo detainees in federal court and opposing indefinite detention without charges. [Update below..]

The Center for Constitutional Rights warns about trading one Gitmo for another (received by e-mail, no link yet):
Moving the Guantánamo system onshore is not change. Whether in Thomson, IL, at Guantánamo, or elsewhere, the very idea that we would toss aside our founding constitutional principles and allow any executive the power of kings to imprison someone forever without a trial is anathema to democracy.

The Obama administration has already cleared for release at least 116 of the 210 men who remain at Guantánamo. Many of them have nowhere to go because they are from countries that routinely engage in torture and other human rights abuses. Will they now be subject to inhuman conditions of solitary confinement in a maximum security facility despite the fact that they will never be charged with anything and have been approved for release? For them Thomson, Illinois may be worse than Guantánamo.

While the fear-mongering over bringing any of the men to the U.S. is opportunistic and entirely political, we cannot support this latest move merely to shut down the symbol of Guantánamo without dismantling the injustice of Guantánamo. A change of scenery does nothing to restore the rule of law.

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    Just have to point out (none / 0) (#1)
    by Socraticsilence on Tue Dec 15, 2009 at 04:20:14 PM EST
    that this is a major promise Obama's following through on- and not too many people on here are going to give him credit.  

    it's not good enough (none / 0) (#2)
    by CST on Tue Dec 15, 2009 at 04:30:07 PM EST
    to just close the prison if they are still being unlawfully detained.  Whether they are in Cuba or the U.S. it's the prison that counts not the country.

    I'm gonna wait and see what happens to those cleared for release before I stand up and chear.


    constitutional principles? (none / 0) (#3)
    by diogenes on Tue Dec 15, 2009 at 06:59:44 PM EST
    If they are POW's then they are held indefinitely and constitutionally.  If they are unlawful enemy combatants then they shouldn't get more rights than POW's.  You'd hardly think that it's constitutional for us to snatch people from Afghanistan to be tried in a civilian court for crimes like "shooting at American troops" or "trying to bomb the USS Cole as a guerrila warfare tactic".