Nadler Decries Failure to Close Guantanamo Bay Detention Center

Jun 14, 2013 Issues: Civil Liberties
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, urged his colleagues to uphold American values by closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. The House was debating an amendment to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act that would have forced the facility to close. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 174-249.
 
“Because of this momentous challenge to the founding principles of the United States—that no person may be deprived of liberty without due process of law, and certainly not indefinitely without due process of law—we must close the detention facility at GTMO now in order to restore our national honor,” said Rep. Nadler. “The time to close Guantanamo is NOW!  It is a stain on our national honor.”
 
Below are Rep. Nadler's remarks as delivered on the House floor. For video of these remarks, click here.
 
“Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the Smith, Moran, Nadler amendment which provides a six-part plan for closing GTMO.
 
“This amendment will remove the existing limitations on transfers, strike the current requests for construction at GTMO, and end funding for the detention facility on December 31, 2014.
 
“The time to close Guantanamo is NOW!  It is a stain on our national honor.
 
“We are holding 166 people in GTMO, 86 of whom have been cleared for release.  That is to say that they have been found guilty of nothing, and judged not to pose any danger. There is no reason and no right for us to hold them further.
  
“Now, Mr. Speaker, I wonder which of our colleagues doesn’t believe in the American system of justice.  I wonder which one of us does not trust our own American courts.  I wonder who among us does NOT believe in the Bill of Rights.  Who does not believe in the right to counsel, or that people should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.  What we have in GTMO is a system that is an affront to those beliefs and to America.  
 
“In the last decade, we have begun to let go of our freedoms bit by bit, with each new Executive order, each new court decision, and yes, each new act of Congress. We have begun giving away our rights to privacy, our right to our day in court when the government harms us, and, with this legislation, we are continuing down the path of destroying the right to be free from imprisonment without due process of law.
 
“I want to commend the gentleman from Washington and the gentleman from Virginia for fighting to close the detention facility at Guantanamo. The language in this bill without our amendment prohibits moving any detainees into the United States and guarantees that we will continue holding people indefinitely; people who are not necessarily terrorists, who we only suspect to be terrorists, who have not had a day in court to prove that they are or are not terrorists, we will continue holding them indefinitely without charge--contrary to every tradition this country stands for, contrary to due process and civil rights. 
 
“Because of this momentous challenge to the founding principles of the United States—that no person may be deprived of liberty without due process of law, and certainly not indefinitely without due process of law—we must close the detention facility at GTMO now in order to restore our national honor. They will have no additional constitutional rights; the Supreme Court ruled that they have the same constitutional rights in Guantanamo as they do here. We must close this facility, restore our national honor, and support this amendment. 
 
“I yield back the balance of my time.”