News Release

Ten Years Since U.S. “Coup” Order

MICHAEL RATNER, ratner at michaelratner.com,
Also via Jen Nessel, JNessel at ccrjustice.org
Available for a limited number of interviews, Ratner is president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights. His latest book is Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in 21st Century America. He said today: “Nov. 13 is the ten-year anniversary of President Bush’s issuance of Military Order #1. I call it the coup d’état order as the president took for himself the control of all three branches of our democracy. Under that order the resident gave himself the authority to direct the capture of any non-citizen anywhere in the world allegedly involved in international terrorism, and detain that person indefinitely without access to the remedy of habeas corpus. Trials, if any, were to be held in front of yet to be minted military commissions. At CCR we were shocked and were the first — and for a long time, the only — human rights organization willing to represent the detainees who were soon seized and taken to Guantanamo. We did so understanding that what was at stake was fundamental: that no one — even those Donald Rumsfeld labeled the ‘worst of the worst’ — should be imprisoned without charges and a trial.

“Today, it’s discouraging that Guantanamo remains open 21 months after the date President Obama promised it would be closed. One hundred seventy-one men remain imprisoned of which 89 have been cleared for release, but with no release in sight. The authority Bush granted himself and Obama continued may even now be expanded and given a congressional imprimatur. Ten years ago I never expected to see preventive detention and military commissions become a permanent part of our legal landscape — sadly they have. All of us have the obligation to hold Obama to his promise and fight a shocking and inhuman descent into medievalism.”