The Constitution Project Joins President Obama’s Call to Depoliticize National Security

But creation of new indefinite detention policy should be rejected

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Matthew Allee, (202) 580-6922 or mallee@constitutionproject.org

WASHINGTON – In his much-anticipated speech today at the National Archives, President Obama reaffirmed that adhering to America’s constitutional principles strengthens our resolve, while keeping our nation safe. The bipartisan Constitution Project applauds his call that: “We will not be safe if we see national security as a wedge that divides America – it can and must be a cause that unites us as one people, as one nation.” The Constitution Project has long recognized that neither our national security nor our constitutional rights are partisan issues. We join the president in condemning the “fear-mongering” of the recent debate over the fate of Guantanamo detainees. The Project also commends the President for publicly reaffirming his commitment to try as many detainees as possible in our federal courts and to abide by previous court rulings to release twenty-plus detainees.

“President Obama did well to remind Congress and the American people that our national security should bring Democrats and Republicans together in working to keep our nation safe,” said Virginia Sloan, president of the Constitution Project. “He deserves praise for his pledge to bring justice to our detention policies and his recognition that detainees should be freed promptly if courts have ordered them released because there is no evidence that they intend to harm our nation. Their continued detention does nothing but endanger our security and betray our principles.

“But President Obama’s announcement that he will seek legislation to create a system of preventive detention for detainees he claims cannot be tried, nor released, is inconsistent with his call for our country to adhere to the rule of law. Similarly, while we welcome the president’s call for transparency and reform of the state secrets privilege, we urge him to go further and support legislation that will ensure that state secrets privilege claims are independently reviewed by neutral and independent judges. As the president continues to work to restore the rule of law in America, his actions must be consistent with his soaring rhetoric. Our Constitution is our nation’s best line of defense.”

The members of the Project’s bipartisan Liberty and Security Committee condemned preventive detention in their Critique of National Security Courts and urged judicial review of state secrets claims in their report Reforming the State Secrets Privilege.

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