Secretary Gates Hints at Establishing Indefinite Detention on U.S. Soil

Transfer should be into the U.S. system of justice, not one of preventive detention, warns Constitution Project

CONTACT: Matthew Allee, (202) 580-6922 or

WASHINGTON – While testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested that the Defense Department may be planning to construct a detention facility on U.S. soil as part of a new system of indefinite preventive detention for Guantanamo detainees who are not transferred to other countries, nor provided with criminal trials in federal court. He suggested that as many as 100 Guantanamo detainees might then be held indefinitely in such a facility without ever facing trial. He went on to ask rhetorically, “What do we do with the 50 to 100—probably in that ballpark—who we cannot release and cannot try?” The Constitution Project calls on the Obama administration to end the policy of indefinite detention without charge – bringing our national security policies into line with the rule of law.

The following can be attributed to Sharon Bradford Franklin, Constitution Project Senior Policy Counsel:

“The domestic and international uproar over the Guantanamo Bay detention facility was due our nation’s disregard of the rule of law. If the United States were to simply move the detainees onto U.S. soil and continue to detain them without charge or legal process, then the act of closing Guantanamo would have been meaningless”

“The United States must close Guantanamo. But more importantly, the government must end the policies in place at Guantanamo. Prosecutions for terrorism offenses can and should be handled by our traditional court system, as has been the case for over 200 years. We should not establish a new system of preventive detention without trial here on U.S. soil.”

The Constitution Project’s bipartisan Liberty and Security Committee, made up of policy experts and advocates, released a white paper last June arguing against establishing a system of preventive detention without trial for terrorist suspects. The report, “A Critique of National Security Courts,” was later updated to include endorsements from additional former federal judges and prosecutors.

Click here to view the report.

The Constitution Project is a politically independent think tank established in 1997 to promote and defend the fundamental tenets of our nation’s founding document. Click here for more information about the Constitution Project.

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