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Madison: Guantanamo Prison’s 10th Anniversary Marked by Local Events

9 Jan

Madison groups are marking the tenth anniversary of the opening of the U.S. detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba next week.  These local events are part of a national campaign to close Guantánamo.

TAKE ACTION TODAY: Join the ACLU in asking President Obama to keep his promise to close the prison camp by charging and trying the prisoners who are there, or sending them home.

Monday, January 9, 12 noon to 1 pm, at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr Blvd and Doty St – Madison Vigil for Peace action to close Guantánamo, including street theater with orange jumpsuits.

  • Tuesday, January 10, at 7 pm in the Predolin Hall auditorium, Edgewood College – “Guantánamo, Military Tribunals and the Rule of Law,” a discussion hosted by the United Nations Association of Dane County and Witness Against Torture – Madison.  The evening begins with a screening ofThe Response,” a courtroom drama based on transcripts of the Guantanamo military tribunals.
  • Wednesday, January 11, at 7 pm at Mother Fool’s Coffeehouse, 1101 Williamson Street – Evening of action to close Guantánamo, including writing letters to policymakers and current detainees. Poetry written by detainees.

For more information, contact the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice at (608) 250-9240 or diane@wnpj.org.

The first men arrived at the U.S. detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on January 11, 2002.  Of the 779 people who have been detained there over the years, only six have been convicted of any crime by a military tribunal.  Most of the 171 remaining detainees were captured simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Most could leave tomorrow if the blanket ban on repatriations to Yemen were lifted.

This month also marks the third anniversary of President Obama’s Executive Order mandating the closure of the Guantánamo detention center within one year.  Not only has the President failed to carry out the Order, he has extended some of the worst aspects of the Guantánamo system by continuing indefinite detentions without charge or trial, employing illegitimate military commissions to try some suspects, and blocking accountability for torture by refusing to conduct independent and thorough investigations, and by attempting to prevent the courts from reviewing lawsuits brought by formerly detained men.

As the tenth anniversary of Guantánamo approaches, the number of experts calling for its closure is growing. Five former U.S. Secretaries of State – including Henry Kissinger, Madeline Albright and Colin Powell – concur that closing down the prison camp would be a major step towards repairing the U.S. image abroad. Even George W. Bush has said he would “like Guantánamo to end.”

Read today’s op-ed in the Capitol Times from Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman of Madison’s Congregation Shaarei Shamayim on why Gitmo must be closed.

Lakhdar Boumediene reflected in Sunday’s New York Times on that anniversary and tells the harrowing tale of the seven and a half years he spent imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay. Read more on the ACLU’s Blog of Rights.

We Must Now Reclaim Our Liberties: Ten Years After 9/11

10 Sep

Ten years after the horrific events of September 11, 2001 the American people are right to remember and honor those who died in at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania.  The ten-year mark of the 9/11 attacks also importantly provides an opportunity to reflect on the turbulent decade behind us, and to recommit ourselves to values that define our nation, including justice, due process, and the rule of law.

Nearly ten years ago on September 23, 2001, I wrote in the Journal Sentinel, “Americans, in and out of the Congress, will have to evaluate carefully, ‘anti-terrorism’ proposals that may have an impact on the civil liberties that protect our freedom.”   Much of the government’s response to the attacks against us was done without proper deliberation.  Much of the government’s response was initiated without the benefit of the 9/11 Commission’s investigation and report.  It is no wonder that we are still facing challenges, despite a “global war on terrorism” that seems to be an everywhere and forever war.

The records of the Bush and the Obama administrations reveal many actions that have undermined our ability to remain safe and free.  Congress has done no better.  Some in Congress are attempting to undermine the Constitution by giving the president a blank check for a worldwide, endless war.  This would be a clear abdication of Congress’s role in our system of checks and balances – the Constitution clearly gives only Congress the power to declare war.

Targeted killings in the name of our security continue without any way for us to know whether people our government kills are truly a threat to our country. Prisoners who have never had a trial are still held at Guantanamo.  Although evidence of torture and death at U.S.-run detention facilities like Abu Ghraib, Bagram and CIA “black sites” exists, no single victim of torture has had a day in court due to the “states secrets” privilege and immunity doctrines our government invokes to defend itself from being held accountable for these human rights abuses.

And, we need not look overseas to see how American freedoms are threatened in ways that may not make us safer, much less safe.

At the Mitchell Field, you get to choose between full-body scanners that reveal near-naked outlines of our bodies or an offensive pat-down by TSA workers. Phone companies are willing to hand over your call records to the government without warrants or suspicion of criminal activity of individuals. Taking pictures of landmarks is enough to make you the subject of a “suspicious activity report” in a terrorist behavior data base. Surveillance by the government has tracked racial minorities, religious groups, peace protesters, college students and journalists.

Government policies that target groups by race, ethnicity or religion are counterproductive and make us less safe.  Experienced intelligence and law-enforcement officials agree that profiling based on race, religion and ideology is ineffective, inefficient, and counter-productive.

This anniversary is a fitting time to remember and stirs deep emotion and concern among our fellow Americans.   This is entirely legitimate and to be expected ten years into a war. But, despite the passing of a decade and the changing of leadership in the White House and Congress, we continue to allow the fear of terrorism to cloud our political discourse.   We must have the courage to affirm what makes  America great.  What I wrote in 2001 is still valid: “Freedom is more than just a goal; it is the bulwark of our democracy and the spirit that lifts individuals and families in countless ways.  It makes us safer and stronger.”

– Chris Ahmuty, Executive Director, ACLU of Wisconsin

Read the report: A Call to Courage – Reclaiming Our Liberty Ten Years After 9/11 from the national American Civil Liberties Union

This opinion piece was also featured in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Crossroads on Sunday, September 11, 2011.

Closing Guantánamo: A Deadline Missed

22 Jan

Today an important deadline was missed. One of the most shameful chapters of American history was to have been brought to a close with the shuttering of the prison at Guantánamo Bay. President Obama’s executive order to close the prison within a year (PDF), made on his second full day in office, was a bold act that signaled a strong commitment to breaking away from the unlawful policies of the Bush administration.

Sadly, the prison is still open. President Obama has recently reaffirmed his commitment to closing the facility, and that is encouraging. Yet, at the same time, it is worrisome that when Guantánamo finally does close, it appears that some of its most shameful policies will continue on U.S. soil, potentially reducing the closure to a symbolic gesture.

The administration has admittedly run into significant obstacles to closing the prison. Congress, awash in fear-mongering and claims of “Not in my backyard,” helped turn Guantánamo into a political football by blocking transfers of detainees cleared for release to the U.S. and launching a failed attempt to block the Justice Department from prosecuting detainees in federal court. But the administration is also to blame, as it has essentially discouraged other countries from accepting detainees by refusing to accept any into the U.S., fought the release of cleared detainees even up to the Supreme Court, and declared recently that it won’t release detainees to Yemen. The notion that Americans are made safer by continuing to detain prisoners who have been deemed appropriate for release simply because they come from certain countries will only serve to inflame those who believe that the U.S. has lost respect for the rule of law.

It is vital that the failure to meet the closure deadline does not give in to a sense of inertia or inevitability that the prison will be open for a long time to come. But it is also just as important that when Guantánamo is finally closed, it is closed right. That means that along with closing the facility, we must also put an end to its illegal policies like indefinite detention. Unfortunately, the latest indications from Washington don’t bode well.

Last month, the Obama administration announced its intention to purchase the Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois for the purpose of holding some of the detainees currently remaining at Guantánamo. However, all indications are that some of the detainees who would be sent to the Thomson prison would be held under a policy, unchanged from the Bush administration, of indefinite detention without charge or trial. The Obama administration may have inherited the problems of Guantánamo from the Bush years, but by continuing the prison’s lawless policies on U.S. soil, it would take undisputed ownership of them.

In deciding how to handle detainees, the administration should conduct a thorough review of each case. Detainees against whom there is no credible evidence should be repatriated back to their home countries or resettled elsewhere where they won’t be tortured. Detainees against whom there is evidence of terrorist activity should be tried in federal courts. The American criminal justice system is more than capable of trying terrorism suspects while protecting both sensitive security evidence and fundamental rights. The federal courts have successfully prosecuted more than over 200 terrorism cases, including those of “Blind Sheik” Omar Abdel-Rahman for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, “shoe-bomber” Richard Reid and Zacarias Moussoui for conspiring in the 9/11 attacks.

No one disputes that the government has the right, under the laws of war, to detain prisoners captured on the battlefield until the end of hostilities. But the Bush and Obama administrations have defined their powers to do so far too broadly. They have used such authority to pick up and detain prisoners from around the globe who they deem engaged in the “war on terror,” essentially defining the “war zone” as the entire globe. Moreover, the “war on terror” will never come to a public, decisive end, so the duration of the war is essentially forever, opening up the possibility that America would detain individuals for the rest of their lives without giving them their due process rights. But even for those detainees at Guantánamo for whom the laws of war would ordinarily apply, the unique situation demands that they be charged or released after so many years of imprisonment without the protections of domestic and international law.

Guantánamo must close, and when it finally does, celebration will be in order. But the illegal policies embodied by the prison must disappear along with it. This moment in time presents a crucial opportunity to turn the page on the tragic policies of the past and firmly reclaim our moral authority. Continuing the failed policies of Guantánamo, on U.S. soil or elsewhere, would be an error of historic proportions.

Cross-posted from the ACLU’s Blog of Rights to Daily Kos and Huffington Post.

Please join the ACLU today and help us continue the fight for accountability in government and an end to abuses of power.

Madisonians Fast for Witness Against Torture – Will Obama Really Close Gitmo?

12 Jan

Yesterday, some Madison peace activists gathered to recognize the anniversary of the start of detentions of alleged terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay. Some of these activists are fasting to bring attention to the lack of progress President Obama and Congress have made in closing Gitmo. Even if you aren’t fasting, you can take action on this issue today.

For why she is choosing to fast, Janet Parker explains:

I am taking part in the Witness Against Torture fast this week to focus attention on our government’s policies of illegal detention, torture, outsourcing of torture, and drone killings in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to call for a change in these policies. Our fast to resist the crimes and abuses of the “War on Terror” began yesterday, January 11, the date eight years ago that Guantánamo was first used to detain prisoners illegally and indefinitely.

The fast will continue until January 22, the day in 2009 when President Obama announced that he would close Guantánamo within a year. That year is almost over, and there are still more than 200 men being held at Guantánamo, many of whom have been cleared of any crime. By international law, these men should never have been held without charge, nor should they have been tortured. We call on the president to make good on his promise of last January to close Guantánamo, to release those men that have already been cleared, and to process other prisoners through fair trials and sentencing under US and international law.

The disgraces of the U.S.’s “War on Terror” include outsourcing torture by sending prisoners to “black sites” around the world where they can be held and tortured out of the public eye. This attempt to sweep torture under the rug by moving it to other nations does not reduce our government’s culpability, nor does it correct or undo the travesties that have unfolded on US-controlled soil at Guantánamo. And citizens who know that torture is wrong should not be silenced by this tactic of outsourcing. We need to continue to be vigilant in defense of prisoners and others harmed by the wars our government is waging in our names and with our tax money.

My fasting this week is one way that I choose to speak out against my government’s illegal and tremendously damaging violent actions, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Guantánamo, Iraq, and here within our country. If readers would like to join the fast, please read more at www.witnesstorture.org and contact us locally at Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, www.wnpj.org 608- 250-9240. You can also read my fellow faster Bonnie Block’s perspective that she shared with the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice blog.

Janet Parker
Madison, Wisconsin

You can read Janet’s full statement on the Capitol Times website.


For a good summary of where we are after eight years, check out Truthout‘s fair criticism of Obama’s stalling and “guilt by nationality.” The ACLU posted their “eight years and counting” blog yesterday which includes this video “Justice Denied: Voices From Guantanamo” in which former detainees tell their stories of being captured and sent to Gitmo without trial.

Tell President Obama during this Gitmo anniversary week that action needs to be taken to close Guantanamo and end indefinite detention now.

Madison Group to Begin 11-Day “Fast for Justice” on Behalf of Guantánamo Detainees

11 Jan

Madison Group to Begin 11-Day “Fast for Justice”
on Behalf of Guantánamo Detainees
Candlelight Vigil and Capitol Procession Will Be Part of National Protest

To speak out against the continued imprisonment of detainees at the U.S. facilities in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, protestors in Madison, WI, will gather at 4 pm, January 11 at First United Methodist Church to participate in a candlelight vigil and procession around the Capitol.

The protestors, organized by Madison Pledge of Resistance, will join groups holding similar events around the country that day in response to a call to action by New York-based Witness Against Torture (www.witnesstorture.org). Witness Against Torture is organizing an 11-day fast in Washington, DC, with a nonviolent action of civil resistance planned for January 21.

January 11 will mark eight years of detention for the men in Guantanamo. On January 22, one year will have passed since President Obama signed an executive order mandating the close of the detention facility by January 22, 2010. The President has conceded that the deadline will not be met.

Regarding her own motivation to participate, Bonnie Block, a leader of Madison Pledge of Resistance, said:

I am participating in the Fast for Justice as a witness to, and a renewal of, my commitment to work for an end to all forms of torture. I do so because the Guantánamo prison has not closed and torture is being outsourced to other repressive governments. I do so because this nation continues its military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, is sending killing drones over Pakistan, and financing the Israeli occupation of Palestine and Gaza. I believe these policies are akin to torture because they too result in the destruction of human life. I think that is unconscionable and unacceptable so I feel compelled to protest.

While some members of the Madison group plan to fast for 11 days, participants are invited to join the candlelight procession and vigil whether or not they are able to fast ― or to fast at a level and for length of time that is comfortable for them. Organizers are also asking protestors to write letters to President Obama and their legislators calling on them to “shut down Guantanamo, try the men we have evidence against, and release those who should be released.”

Details of the planned Madison Fast for Justice events are as follows:
Monday, January 11, 4:00 p.m. – Gathering at First United Methodist Church, 203 Wisconsin Ave., followed by a procession around the Capitol and candlelight vigil

Saturday, January 16, 4:00 p.m. – Protestors reconvene for fellowship and reflection at the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice office at 122 State St., Room 405

Friday, January 22 – Final gathering at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 322 East Washington for participants to break their fast together.

News roundup: fair housing victory, NIMBY on detainees, blogging on profiling and more

7 Aug

Here’s a quick wrap-up of some civil liberties related news of the week…

Fair Housing
The ACLU of Wisconsin won a court case against the city of South Milwaukee to prevent the razing of an apartment building that housed a large portion of the city’s minority population. More details to come.

Close Guantanamo
Last month, some legislators introduced a bill to reject any Gitmo detainees from being housed in Wisconsin jails. It’s a move that legislators are attempting across the country to stir debate about terrorism, even though we already have many convicted terrorists behind bars on US soil (remember the perps from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing? Oklahoma City fed building bombing? Even Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui is in Colorado). But this week, the Obama Administration was talking about the complexity of dealing with the often-uncharged detainees and that they might try to build a courthouse/supermax combo in Michigan or Kansas.

If you haven’t already, tell President Obama to reject indefinite detention and close Guantanamo asap.

Census and Redistricting
Census folks have been out in neighborhoods to confirm addresses since the spring, but the big count won’t happen until 2010. One of the big questions will be around how the count of prisoners will be used in future redistricting of politicans’ turf. A timely op-ed from the NY Times describes why counting prisoners where they are incarcerated makes redistricting complicated and unbalanced. Our own Wisconsin state legislators will be talking about Assembly Joint Resolution 63 which would exclude the census’ prisoner count from redistricting plans. The hearing will be on September 3.

Voting Rights
Senator Russ Feingold helped to introduce legislation at the federal level to end discrimination in voting rights against people with felony convictions. This interesting article gives the perspective from the southern states and describes why this voting rights issue echoes the long history of both Jim Crow and the prison industrial complex.

Response to the Wisconsin Democracy Restoration bill has been good. A large coalition of organizations is behind it and to date we have only found two blog posts against it (one from Sen. Mary Lazich and another from the same folks who brought complaints about gay and lesbian books in the West Bend community library.

Speaking of voting, did you get a letter from the Government Accountability Board about your voter registration status? They are cleaning up their databases. See your city clerk to get your info updated.

Racial Profiling
Opinions are mixed about the new seat belt/racial data collection item the budget the Governor signed last month. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation cited the new law that would give police the power to pull drivers over for not wearing a seat belt as a reason for record-low traffic fatalities in July. However, the Milwaukee County Sheriff is blogging about how the racial profiling data collection is a tool of exploitation by “race hustlers” and that ACLU has nothing better to do than to sue police.

Sheriff Clarke might have missed the report and recommendations issued last year by the Office of Justice Assistance and the Governor’s Commission on Reducing Racial Disparities in the Wisconsin Justice System. The commission included police, corrections and housing experts, judges, lawyers, academics, community and faith leaders. The report strongly recommended that “throughout the state, we must increase and improve the validity and reliability of data, e.g. collecting and making data available,” and that “appropriate state agencies should be directed to conduct a county-by-county baseline study of racial disparity using existing traffic citation and arrest data to determine (racial) disparity levels in the state.” The report is supposed to be a blueprint for effectively addressing our disproportionate minority incarceration rate in our state.

The reality is that racial profiling is one slice of the pie that makes Wisconsin one of the worst states for putting people of color behind bars. Anyone could suggest that a Governor’s commission and an OJA report is politically motivated. But disproportionate minority contact by law enforcement is a systemic problem. A systemic problem is bigger than a few racist cops. A systemic problem is bigger than one sheriff who feels politically targeted. And a systemic problem needs a systemic analysis. Buckle up drivers!

Gay and Lesbian Rights
The domestic partner registry began this week. In Dane County, 50 couples registered on the first day. County clerks had geared up for lines of couples waiting to register. While the Cap Times article says that applying for the registry has the same process as getting a marriage license, both the state Legislative Council and the ACLU of Wisconsin said that the registry does not equate marriage.

But organizations like the “Wisconsin Family Action” are still insisting that the domestic partnership provisions are “marriage-like” and have filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The ACLU of Wisconsin has committed to fighting a legal challenge to domestic partnerships in the state.

Action alert: don’t let Defense bill undermine effort to close Guantanamo, end torture and detention

20 Jul

This week, the mammoth Defense Department Authorization bill is on the Senate floor.

This must-pass legislation could easily become a vehicle for amendments to stop the closing of Guantánamo Bay, undermine efforts to hold accountable those responsible for the Bush torture program, and — most troubling of all — promote a new system of indefinite detention without charge or trial. In fact, the bill already has language that would allow the Guantánamo military commissions to continue to convict people based on coerced confessions.

Email your senators and tell them not to let the Defense Department Authorization bill become a vehicle for undermining civil liberties.

Your voice and that of hundreds of thousands of other ACLU activists are being heard in Washington. After months and months of pressure and newer, more disturbing revelations, Attorney General Holder is close to appointing a special prosecutor to investigate torture. And we have allies in the White House and in Congress who are committed to cleaning up the mess left by the Bush administration.

There are also some dangerous proposals being considered — including indefinite detention without charge or trial. That is why it is so critical for you to contact to your senators today and ask them to:

– Support the President’s commitment to shutdown Guantánamo by January 2010.

– End Guantánamo military commissions, and charge and try any alleged terrorists in federal criminal courts.

– Totally reject indefinite detention without charge and without trial. Nothing could be more un-American than giving the federal government the power to imprison people indefinitely without charge or trial.

Please help the ACLU create a drumbeat letting Congress and the White House know that Americans want them to move forward. Congress should not codify and expand Bush Administration policies.

Email your senators and tell them not to let the Defense Department Authorization bill become a vehicle for undermining civil liberties.

With critical civil liberties issues about to hit the Senate floor, we have to be as vocal as possible. Please take a moment right now to contact your senators. And please stay alert to fast-moving events in the days ahead.

Sincerely,
Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director
American Civil Liberties Union

P.S. The news last weekend that Attorney General Eric Holder is actively considering launching a torture investigation is encouraging. It is because of the hard work of ACLU attorneys and advocates and the voices of activists like you that we are at this point. We’ll be counting on you to make sure he follows through — and to insist that an investigation is as thorough and far-reaching as it needs to be. Please donate or become a member today.

Demand that America Holds Those Who Authorized Torture Accountable

30 Jun

Call Congress Today! It’s time to remind our elected officials that we need them to close Guantanamo, end military commissions, reject indefinite detention and demand accountability for torture policies.

There are lots of details on Obama’s consideration of renewing policies of indefinite detention in this ProPublica/Washington Post article.

They especially need a reminder that we have not forgotten about why military commissions compromise fairness in our justice system. President Obama should not fail his intentions to restore America by allowing for “due process light.”

Increasingly press reports indicate the Obama administration is not only planning to revive the failed military commissions system to try detainees, but will also continue the Bush administration’s policies of holding detainees indefinitely without charge. These disappointing actions on the part of the Obama administration serve as a reminder that no matter which party controls the White House or Congress we must remain ever-vigilant and engaged in our fight to protect freedom and justice.

This is why the ACLU and scores of coalition partners are mobilizing activists to demand that America returns to the rule of law and holds those who authorized torture accountable.

You can do this today by calling your member of Congress and letting your legislators know that it’s time…

…to close Guantanamo
…end the military commissions permanently
…reject indefinite detention
…demand accountability

Our Call Alert allows you to look up and call your members of Congress and helps us to track the outcome of the call. It also allows you to tell you friends about the alert to help generate even more calls. To participate, visit our action website today. Tell your legislators to:

# Close Guantanamo. The president has announced his intention to close the prison by January 2010. Congress should work with the President to ensure the prison is closed and the individuals held there are charged and prosecuted or repatriated.

# End military commissions permanently. These kangaroo courts didn’t work under the Bush administration and cosmetic changes in the Obama administration won’t work either. The system is fatally flawed. Federal courts can provide a true measure of justice, while respecting the rule of law and upholding American values.

# Reject indefinite detention. As Americans, we hold ourselves to a higher standard. Our Constitution and core values demand that we prosecute crime where evidence exists and release individuals where evidence of wrongdoing is lacking or non-existent mere suspicion is not enough to deny anyone due process. We must hold true to our values and reject any attempt to give any president the ability to detain people indefinitely without charge.

# Support the appointment of an independent prosecutor. As more and more evidence comes to light about the treatment and interrogation of detainees, the evidence demands a thorough investigation of the abuse, the architects of that abuse and prosecution of any crimes that were committed. Just as important, the American people deserve a full and fair accounting of what took place to ensure torture never happens in our name again.

For more information on how the ACLU is working to keep America Safe and Free, visit our national website.

Why photos? ACLU of Wisconsin Director answers questions on WPR

20 May

Did anyone catch ACLU of Wisconsin Executive Director Chris Ahmuty Joy Cardin’s Wisconsin Public Radio show on Monday morning? You can still listen through their archives.

Ahmuty answered questions about why the ACLU is demanding that torture photos be released. Listen to the show to find out:

Why is the ACLU demanding photos? It’s not that we want to see photos: we want to see justice and an end to torture. Photos and memos and orders are all evidence of illegal behavior on behalf of the Bush administration. Gathering evidence is the only way to get transparency and ultimately accountability. Attorney General Holder should appoint a special prosecutor to gather evidence and make the case. You can email Holder and tell him yourself.

Why is the ACLU defending detainees? How we treat enemy combatants, how we treat even the “worst of the worst” in our criminal justice system, reflects on our entire justice system. The justice system in our country and internationally has rules. The rules are needed for credibility. We can’t break the rules by not recognizing the same rights for everyone. You can learn more about the John Adams Project on the ACLU website.

Orders to close Guantanamo attacked: take action today!

4 Feb

We expected this to happen. President Obama’s bold first moves on Guantánamo Bay and military commissions have been met by brazen campaigns of misinformation from those who want to retain disastrous Bush administration policies.

Fox News is raising the specter of terrorists living in people’s “backyards.” Senators are saying that bringing detainees to the U.S. “will endanger American lives.” Rush Limbaugh is spreading the totally unsupported claim that 61 already-released detainees have “returned to the battlefield.” And, naysayers continue to make claims that our criminal justice system is incapable of prosecuting terrorism suspects.

They want to derail President Obama’s efforts to put an end to indefensible Bush administration practices and policies. That’s why we must get the truth out. How can you help?

Write a letter to the editor to get the facts out there and to make it clear that people all across America support President Obama’s actions to restore our nation’s commitment to justice and the rule of law.

We can’t let Gitmo apologists have the last word. By acting today, you can help counter their dangerous rhetoric.

President Obama’s executive orders were the crucial first steps. But, there is still much that needs to be done before the United States is once again a nation we can be proud of. Instead of backing down the way Rush Limbaugh and others are trying to force him to do, we need the President to follow through all the way.

That means insisting that Guantánamo Bay is shut down as soon as possible. It means making sure that the policies of the Obama administration do not allow for any form of indefinite detention. And, it means rejecting calls for a new system for prosecuting detainees. Our justice system and time-tested federal courts are fully capable of handling sensitive national security cases without compromising fundamental rights.

Help get the facts out there by writing a letter to the editor. Or, learn the facts and post on your favorite blogs or news sites.

Finally, America is headed in the right direction. We can’t afford to let irresponsible voices dominate the ongoing debate over Guantánamo Bay and detention issues.

Let’s make our voices heard until Guantánamo Bay is finally closed and every element of the Bush system of injustice is totally dismantled. Thanks for standing with us.

Sincerely,
Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director
ACLU

Take action: Thank President Obama for acting to Close Guantanamo and stop torture

23 Jan

This week has been a extraordinary time for civil liberties and our country. And we should all pat ourselves on the back for helping make this moment happen.

Just 48 hours into his presidency, Barack Obama took decisive action on civil liberties — issuing four executive orders that set a new path towards an America we can be proud of.

All those petitions ACLU members signed, actions members and activists have taken and contributions they have made are paying off in dramatic fashion. Because — make no mistake — President Obama’s decisive acts of leadership wouldn’t be possible without ACLU supporters laying the groundwork.

We refused to listen to those who said the ACLU was being idealistic, unrealistic and even crazy to expect a new President to act this quickly. And by acting on our convictions, we have helped make this a remarkable day for the Constitution and the rule of law.

Anyone can take a moment to thank President Obama for acting so quickly — and urge him to keep moving forward.

With four executive orders yesterday, our new President:
– Ordered Guantánamo Bay shut down
– Banned torture
– Ordered a full review of U.S. detention policies and procedures, and
– Delayed the trial of Ali al-Marri, an ACLU client whose case is at the center of the Supreme Court’s review of indefinite detention policies.

We’re seeing — right before our eyes — what it means to have a President who respects the Constitution and honors the rule of law. Please sign our “Thank You for Acting” message to President Obama — not simply because he has earned our gratitude, but because he will need our ongoing support if we want him to follow through on crucial civil liberties and human rights priorities.

This isn’t just about sending a message of thanks to Obama. It’s about sending a message to anyone who dares to stand in our way as we act to restore the Constitution and reclaim America’s reputation.

In the last 24 hours, more than 30,000 ACLU supporters have already signed our “Thank You for Acting” message to the President. Count yourself among them. Please act right now.

Sincerely,
Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director
ACLU

Top ten to-do list for President Obama

18 Jan

Tuesday marks an officially new federal administration and the ACLU has a few ideas on how we can restore civil rights and liberties. We even have a top ten list.

A local radio station WORT’s news reporter, Craig McComb, visited the ACLU of Wisconsin’s statewide activist conference last year where he first heard about the ACLU’s transition plan for the new administration. Craig then gathered responses from local and state activists to address the critical need for immediate action to restore the rule of law.

Each segment is around five minutes long. Listen in and then send your own letter to President Obama to ask him to close Guantanamo, end the abuses of federal power, and take our country back to basic, Constitutional rights.

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