I don’t say this lightly. I say this with a joyful heart and tears in my eyes. Seriously. This isn’t hyperbole.
This man you see, Judge Ricardo M. Urbina of Federal District Court, a Clinton appointee, is my new hero. He has ordered that a group of 17 Guantanamo detainees be produced before him for release. This is the first ruling of this kind in nearly seven years of legal wrangling over the rights of detainess at Gitmo.
All of these men, these detainees, are members of the Uighur Muslim minority from China and literally cannot return to China because they fear for their lives. They were in Afghanistan as political refugees and were swept into Afghan detention camps in 2001 in error. There is no other country which will accept them for fear of retribution from China, so they will be released to the care of other Uighur Muslims living in the US.
This case was brought before Judge Urbina under the ruling by the Supreme Court which restored the detainees habeas corpus rights and it comes after the government has admitted that it has no evidence that these men are a threat to the United States. Judge Urbina challenged the government’s assertions that he has no right to free these detainees and warned against any further delay tactics. He also made clear that no other agencies (immigration, for instance) should try and arrest the men upon their release.
I am thankful for Judge Urbina’s courage and wisdom and I fervently hope that other Judges follow his lead in future habeas corpus cases brought on behalf of Guantanamo Bay detainees. Don’t go crazy: there are certainly a few at Gitmo who may need to be brought to further justice. But there are many who should be freed or, at the least, released to their home countries. Judge Urbina has opened the door to this process and, for this, he is my new hero.