Letter to the Hon. Ashton Carter, Secretary of Defense - Female GITMO Service Members Policy


Dear Mr. Secretary,

It has come to our attention that five "high value" detainees at Guantanamo Bay have petitioned to permanently restrict female service members from assignments related to their detention. We believe these positions should remain open to women, regardless of the religious beliefs of the detainees. Prohibiting women from these assignments discriminates against our troops and allows the enemies of the United States to dictate the terms on which American citizens serve their country. Women in uniform should not have to endure prejudice based on the convictions of enemy combatants, and male soldiers should not be forced to fill these deployments at a higher rate than necessary as a result.

Women have served at Guantanamo Bay since the arrival of the first detainees from Afghanistan in 2002. They have demonstrated the same commitment to their duties as their male counterparts, and numerous other changes have already been made to accommodate the religious beliefs of those currently held at Guantanamo.

While the United States should make certain allowances with respect to human rights, we must not compromise our basic principles at the behest of the very individuals who seek to destroy them. This case exemplifies the continued manipulation of our system to benefit terrorists directly responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent Americans. One of the five detainees, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, is the infamous mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. He was Al Qaeda's chief propagandist, and continues to support that role through his legal actions at Guantanamo. Attempts to impose Mr. Mohammed's interpretation of religious law on America's men and women in uniform must be unequivocally denied.

We ask that you provide Congress with the current policy regarding assignments surrounding detainees at Guantanamo Bay. In your response, outline any changes that have been made to this policy since September 11, 2001. If any policy changes were to accommodate religious or cultural interests, please provide a detailed explanation of the rationale behind those changes. Finally, we impel you to ensure that female service members are not barred from continuing to serve in any capacity due to the requests of those detained for participating in terrorist attacks against the United States.

Our policies reflect our values. We cannot allow our values to be compromised by prohibiting female soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen from certain assignments due to the objections of our enemies. We value all that our women in uniform do and have done to keep our nation safe, and must stand by our principles in this war of ideas.