City Bar Urges President Obama to Take Executive Action to Close Guantanamo

Calling Guantanamo a “stain on our nation’s reputation” and “a serious threat to our national security,” the New York City Bar Association has written to President Barack Obama urging him to take Executive action to release or transfer the prison’s 86 detainees previously cleared for release and “to take concrete steps to restart the process toward closure of the Guantanamo Bay facility, including the eventual prosecution, transfer or release of the remaining individuals currently held there.” “We recognize that Congress has put significant obstacles in your path, designed to frustrate the fulfillment of your promise to close Guantanamo, but Section 1028 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 provides a path, albeit arduous, for release or transfer of detainees through Executive action that culminates in a national security waiver by the Secretary of Defense,” the letter states. “We urge the Administration to direct the Secretary of Defense to take actions to satisfy the requirements, wherever possible, for issuing waivers as specified in Section 1028.” The letter, dated May 3rd and signed by City Bar President Carey R. Dunne, with copies to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Thomas Donilon, references the ongoing hunger strike at Guantanamo as reflecting “suffering and hopelessness inflicted by a policy of unjustified detention that undermines the rule of law.” The letter “wholeheartedly” joins Senator Dianne Feinstein’s call to reexamine the halt of transfers to Yemen that reportedly affects 56 of the 86 cleared detainees in light of the election of a new President in Yemen, and to fill the vacancy of the Office of Special Envoy for the Closure of Guantanamo. The letter concludes, “We submit that the steps urged here are necessary not only to cleanse the stain on our nation’s reputation as a staunch defender of the rule of law and international human rights but also to remove what has become a serious threat to our national security.” The report can be read here: