Guantanamo Bay barbed wire watch tower

Our Civil Liberties, Ourselves



It has been a long time since I last wrote about the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. In recent weeks, the major civil liberties focus has been the Senate Intelligence Committee’s vote to release the report on the CIA’s use of torture. But now, as Congress begins work anew on the FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, provisions related to Guantanamo and efforts to close it have been reignited.

Last year’s NDAA included language that lifted a ban on the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo to another country, although bans on transfers to the United States for trial in federal court or emergency medical care remains. The NDAA is an important opportunity to further efforts to close Guantanamo Bay.

Not only is this the time of year for work on the NDAA, but last May, President Obama spoke at the National Defense University, calling for closure of Guantanamo and discussed policy on drone warfare. This speech was a landmark moment, as it was the first time in a long while that the President publicly spoke on Guantanamo and made the call again to close the detention center.

In 2008, the Reform Movement’s Commission on Social Action called for the closure of Guantanamo. In that resolution, the CSA declared its commitment to the Jewish principle that all people are created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God. All people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, as we all contain the divine spark.

One of the Religious Action Center’s most important partners in this work is the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), which is organizing an event on May 23rd in Washington, DC calling for the closure of Guantanamo Bay on the anniversary of the president’s 2013 speech. If you are in the DC area, the DC Rally to Close Guantanamo and End Indefinite Detention will take place at Lafayette Square, in front of the White House at 11am.

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Sarah Greenberg

About Sarah Greenberg

Sarah Greenberg is an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. She graduated in 2013 from Cornell University, and is originally from New York, NY, where her family is a member of Central Synagogue.

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