More Must Be Done to Close Guantanamo, Leahy Says

The senator says it has harmed the country’s national security.

Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) questions witnesses during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on 'Conflicts between State and Federal Marijuana Laws,' on Capitol Hill, September 10, 2013 in Washington, DC. The hearing focused on conflicts between state and federal marijuana laws.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
Add to Briefcase
Jordain Carney
Dec. 5, 2013, 10:02 a.m.

Sen. Patrick Leahy on Thursday clas­si­fied Guantanamo Bay and the way the U.S. mil­it­ary uses drones as “de­fin­ing chal­lenges” for the coun­try in re­gard to hu­man rights.

The Ver­mont Demo­crat gave the key­note ad­dress for the 2013 Hu­man Rights Sum­mit, an event hos­ted by Hu­man Rights First, a non­profit or­gan­iz­a­tion.

“For more than a dec­ade, the in­def­in­ite de­ten­tion of pris­on­ers at Guantanamo has con­tra­dicted our most ba­sic prin­ciples of justice, de­graded our in­ter­na­tion­al stand­ing as a cham­pi­on of hu­man rights, and rather than help­ing our na­tion­al se­cur­ity it has ac­tu­ally harmed it,” Leahy said.

He ad­ded that U.S. of­fi­cials “con­demn” oth­er gov­ern­ments when they take sim­il­ar ac­tions, and they “should not tol­er­ate” such prac­tices with­in the U.S. gov­ern­ment.

Amend­ments to the Na­tion­al De­fense Au­thor­iz­a­tion Act that would have made clos­ing the de­ten­tion cen­ter more dif­fi­cult failed to gain pas­sage in the Sen­ate. But sim­il­ar pro­vi­sions were in­cluded in the ver­sion of the le­gis­la­tion that House mem­bers passed.

The sen­at­or spoke out against the gov­ern­ment’s back­ing of tor­ture after the Sept. 11, 2001, ter­ror­ist at­tacks. He called tor­ture “counter to our core mor­als and val­ues” and said it should not “be cloaked in eu­phem­isms like ‘en­hanced in­ter­rog­a­tion tech­niques,’ or jus­ti­fied by twis­ted and flawed leg­al ana­lyses.”

Leahy also tar­geted the gov­ern­ment’s use of drones, not­ing that while he thinks the mil­it­ary should be able to use the devices in armed con­flicts it must be “in ac­cord­ance with in­ter­na­tion­al hu­man­it­ari­an law.”

“I re­main very con­cerned about the lack of trans­par­ency sur­round­ing these op­er­a­tions, and the al­leged use of ‘sig­na­ture strikes,’ ” he said.

Leahy sug­ges­ted that the in­ter­na­tion­al law that gov­erns drones should be reex­amined and pos­sibly tightened. It isn’t the first time the sen­at­or has voiced his con­cerns about the U.S. drone pro­gram. He pressed earli­er this year for great­er trans­par­ency for mem­bers of Con­gress and the pub­lic.

What We're Following See More »
Vekselberg Met with Cohen Days Before the Election
2 days ago

Eleven days before the presidential inauguration last year, a billionaire Russian businessman with ties to the Kremlin visited Trump Tower in Manhattan to meet with Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, according to video footage and another person who attended the meeting. In Mr. Cohen’s office on the 26th floor, he and the oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, discussed a mutual desire to strengthen Russia’s relations with the United States under President Trump, according to Andrew Intrater, an American businessman who attended the meeting and invests money for Mr. Vekselberg."

Mueller Tells Court He’s Ready for Papadopoulos Sentencing
4 days ago
Cohen Business Partner to Cooperate with Investigators
5 days ago
Trump Meeting with Wray and Rosenstein
6 days ago
DOJ Asks Watchdog to Look into Any Infiltration of Trump Campaign
1 weeks ago

"The Justice Department asked its internal watchdog to examine if there was any impropriety in the counterintelligence investigation of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, after the president demanded Sunday that the department investigate the motives behind the inquiry. Earlier Sunday, in one of a series of tweets targeting the probe into whether Trump associates colluded with Russia during the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump wrote: 'I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!'"


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.