Lawyers for Gitmo detainees endorse ObamaBy Charlie Savage
More than 80 volunteer lawyers for Guantanamo Bay detainees today endorsed Illinois Senator Barack Obama's presidential bid.
The attorneys said in a joint statement that they believed Obama was the best choice to roll back the Bush-Cheney administration's detention policies in the war on terrorism and thereby to "restore the rule of law, demonstrate our commitment to human rights, and repair our reputation in the world community." The attorneys are representing the detainees in habeas corpus lawsuits, which are efforts to get individual hearings before federal judges in order to challenge the basis for their indefinite imprisonment without trial.
The attorneys praised Obama for being a leader in an unsuccessful fight in the fall of 2006 to block Congress from enacting a law stripping courts of jurisdiction to hear Guantanamo detainee lawsuits. The constitutionality of that law, which was part of the Military Commissions Act, is now being challenged before the Supreme Court in one of the most closely-watched cases this term.
"When we were walking the halls of the Capitol trying to win over enough Senators to beat back the Administration's bill, Senator Obama made his key staffers and even his offices available to help us," they wrote. "Senator Obama worked with us to count the votes, and he personally lobbied colleagues who worried about the political ramifications of voting to preserve habeas corpus for the men held at Guantanamo. He has understood that our strength as a nation stems from our commitment to our core values, and that we are strong enough to protect both our security and those values. Senator Obama demonstrated real leadership then and since, continuing to raise Guantanamo and habeas corpus in his speeches and in the debates."
.......The writ of habeas corpus dates to the Magna Carta, and was enshrined by the Founders in our Constitution. The Administration's attack on habeas corpus rights is dangerous and wrong. America needs a President who will not triangulate this issue. We need a President who will restore the rule of law, demonstrate our commitment to human rights, and repair our reputation in the world community. Based on our work with him, we are convinced that Senator Obama can do this because he truly feels these issues "in his bones.".....
We urge you to support Senator Obama.