While Presidents have the power to pardon, an Executive Order does not rise above existing federal statute or erase the records that show at least twenty (and perhaps all) of the original twenty-two Uighurs are inadmissible into the United States. As I recently pointed out, Section 103 of the Real ID Act of 2005 states that “any alien” who “has engaged in a terrorist activity” or “is a member of a terrorist organization” may not be admitted into the United States. In addition, last August the Long War Journal reported the results of its review of the twenty-two Uighurs originally held at Guantanamo:
All of the Uighurs at Gitmo have been associated with, or been members of, the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (“ETIM”). … 20 of the 22 Uighurs detained at Gitmo were allegedly trained in an ETIM training camp and/or other facilities. At least 15 of the Uighurs detained at Gitmo have admitted that they received weapons training. The main training camp at which the Uighurs trained was reportedly sponsored by al Qaeda and the Taliban. … Some of the Uighur detainees are alleged to have fought in Afghanistan. … At least several of the Uighur detainees have ties to the ETIM’s senior leadership, which is, in turn, tied to the senior leadership of al Qaeda. … The ETIM, and Abdul Haq, remain a threat.
Five of the original twenty-two Uighurs have already been released abroad.
While a previous order by a District Court Judge to release the remaining seventeen within the United States was overruled last week, the New York Times reported this morning that their lawyers will ask President Barack Obama to disobey federal law:
“These are innocent men, held in a prison that has become a national shame,” the lawyers say in a letter to President Obama they are to release at a Washington news conference on Thursday. They ask that the president “restore liberty to these men” by sending them home, finding another country where they are willing to go, or permitting them into the United States [emphasis added mine].
As usual, their lawyers repeated detainee propaganda, their baseless allegations of abuse:
The detainees’ lawyers assert that at least 2 of the 20 men have been physically abused in recent weeks. A spokeswoman for the prison, Cmdr. Pauline Storum, said there had been no substantiated claims of abuse in recent weeks.
In a news conference in Washington, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said that in a visit to Guantánamo on Monday he noted a “very conscious attempt” by guards to “conduct themselves in an appropriate way.”
Surely, President Obama will also conduct himself in an appropriate way by obeying the law.