Washington – Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) and Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Co-Chairmen of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling in Boumediene v. Bush. The Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that foreign terrorism suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility have the right under the Constitution to challenge their detention in a U.S. civilian court.
“Today, the rule of law won. The Supreme Court’s decision undoubtedly rebuked the Administration’s failed policy on Guantanamo. Since the detention facility opened in 2002, the United States’ human rights record has been tarnished around the world. It is time to for U.S. courts to be open for business and either charge those who are guilty or release those against whom charges cannot be brought. As Chairman of the Helsinki Commission, I engage continually with officials of other countries focusing particularly on human rights. No issue has been raised more vigorously by representatives of other countries than the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo. I welcome today’s decision and believe that every person accused of a crime deserves his day in court,” said Chairman Hastings.
“I commend the majority of the Supreme Court that voted 5-4 to reject, once again, the Bush Administration’s unsound detention policies, which hold accused terrorists without trial or charge indefinitely for years. Part of America’s strength as a nation is our respect for the rule of law and the understanding that laws cannot be pushed aside easily,” said Co-Chairman Cardin. “I agree with Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion that ‘the laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.’ The Supreme Court has inserted an important check and balance on the Bush Administration’s war on terrorism policies. I hope that the Administration will now work cooperatively with Congress, the courts, and our international allies to reexamine our current trial procedures in Guantanamo Bay.”
In July, the Helsinki Commission will hold a hearing to review the Boumediene decision and examine how other countries have successfully tried and convicted accused terrorists. The Commission will once again examine one of the unimplemented recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, which is to engage its friends and allies to develop a common coalition approach toward the detention and trial of captured terrorists, including drawing on Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions on the law of armed conflict.”