Patterico's Pontifications

1/22/2010

Change: Obama to Continue Indefinite Detention

Filed under: Obama,Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 1:55 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

The Obama Administration has determined that some detainees really are too dangerous to be released:

“Administration officials tell ABC News that the Guantanamo Detainee Review Task Force has determined that about 50 Guantanamo detainees should be held indefinitely for prolonged detention and that 35 detainees should be prosecuted under military or civilian trials. The indefinite detention of the 50 detainees was first reported by the Washington Post.

The task force has determined that there are too many difficulties in prosecuting their cases but determined that the men are too dangerous to be released. Many in this category allegedly spent time at al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan prior to the 9/11 attacks or were linked to the Taliban and continued to fight with the groups during the U.S. offensive in 2001.”

Here is the Washington Post article that originally reported this story.

At some point, the Obama Administration may realize America is at war.

— DRJ

36 Responses to “Change: Obama to Continue Indefinite Detention”

  1. Hey, whatever happened to speaking “Twoof to Plower?”

    Dmac (539341)

  2. you know, i am tempted to mock obama, but instead i will just say, good for him. hopefully he will do more correct things as we move forward.

    And the reason why i don’t want to mock him for it, is because we have to give him a way to agree with us without abuse, to encourage him to come to his senses.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  3. I’ll be the first one in line to encourage him when Holder remits their insane policy of treating foreign terrorists as US citizens. Until that happens, I’ll hold my applause.

    Dmac (539341)

  4. I’d quote all those Impeach slogans, but they used the term “chimp” a lot, which is probably racist now.

    Anyway, this is different. Obama said this stuff was an abomination. Bush did what he thought was right, but Obama is doing something he said was very wrong. He’s going to pretend this never happened when he runs for reelection, knowing the right won’t bring it up either because they find it vital.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  5. I feel about this the same way I felt before: if the executive is claiming the power to hold people indefinitely without charging them with a crime, there must be some independent review of that action. Otherwise there is nothing other than faith in the benifecence of the executive to ensure that the power is not being abused by holding people who pose no actual threat or who are merely political enemies of the current officeholder.

    The fact that a Democrat is now in charge of making this decision, and not a Republican, does not change it: if there isn’t a check on this power, it will be abused.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  6. I’m with Dmac on this one, he deserves no applause or our approval until he and his justice department actually pursue justice instead of justice’s evil, lesser and twisted twin.

    Vivian Louise (643333)

  7. Indefinite Detention concerns me, too. Why not try them by military tribunal? If they are deemed that dangerous, doesn’t it follow that there is likely something in their history that proves that, and makes them a likely candidate for the death penalty?

    As I recall from my Law of Land Warfare training in the dark ages, the Geneva Convention allows the summary execution of an enemy combatant, right?

    German spies in the US and behind US lines in WWII stories leap half-formed to mind. I need to research the Geneva Convention and history books, I guess.

    Virtual Insanity (d9db9c)

  8. We are the change we’ve been waiting for!

    Subotai (56f80b)

  9. if the executive is claiming the power to hold people indefinitely without charging them with a crime, there must be some independent review of that action.

    And by “independent” you mean “courts”, right? I’ve never understoof the belief that the courts exemplify independence.

    Subotai (56f80b)

  10. It’s that fierce moral urgency, I tells ya.

    Techie (43d092)

  11. “: if there isn’t a check on this power, it will be abused.

    Comment by aphrael”

    I can get on board with this, but only in the strict sense. I don’t think our federal court system, with federal rights, should be that check.

    In fact, my understand is that the JAG is independent of the chain of command, and the tribunals were, to an extent, the check. If not, it wouldn’t be hard for them to become an Article I court with some formal independence, but a different system of rights and a special facilitation of secrets and evidence.

    We’re in this war for a while and might as well have some infrastructure for this.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  12. Indefinite Detention concerns me, too. Why not try them by military tribunal?

    The left, including people like Obama and Holder, fought tooth and nail against the idea of military tribunals.

    See aphrael’s desire for “independent” review of such tribunals.

    Subotai (56f80b)

  13. The Empty Suit(tm)

    SPQR (26be8b)

  14. DRJ said, “At some point, the Obama Administration may realize America is at war.”

    OTOH they may not. So far, all the evidence is to the contrary. But, they do seem to have such trouble dealing with guys who are out to kill us. They just don’t quite know how to handle the problem. It’s just sooooo confusing….too many nuisances.

    So, let’s see if Team Obama can handle something a little closer to home. How about they make an effort to stop spending money we don’t have? That would be a step in the right direction.

    ropelight (a6070c)

  15. Continues?

    People, Obama expanded this program, but having stated that some – even if they are found innocent at trial (civilian or military) – would be held until the WH decided to release them, if and when they decided to do so.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  16. Subotai – I mean someone who can not be fired by the executive if the executive doesn’t like their decision.

    I’d be fine with an article III court system which follows different procedural rules than the normal courts. I’m not ok with a judge whose paycheck can be terminated if the executive disagrees with his ruling.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  17. At the end of a “normal” conflict, the belligerent parties declare an end to hostilities and each side releases their prisoners of war (save those accused of war crimes). In this case (terrorism), one of the parties is not a nation but an ideology. There can be no “end of hostilities”. This is a war that cannot conclude with victory in the traditional sense…it can only be moderated to a lower level of violence.

    Unfortunately, the administration (and future administrations) can either choose to release the “enemy combatants” at some point — at which time they will resume fighting us — or hold them for an indefinite period (i.e.: life). There is at least one other option, but it is not one I believe to be compatible with our national values.

    navyvet (e4db05)

  18. Navyvet: right. But unless there is some way for someone other than those who report to the Executive to verify that these people are, in fact, enemy combatants, than the system is rife for abuse – because then there is no way to guarantee that other people aren’t being wrongfully declared enemy combatants and then disappeared.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  19. Do you think that Obama has the intellectual honesty to someday — someday in the near or (more likely) distant future — sit in an interview and say something along the lines of: “You know, I was highly critical of pretty much all of the policies of the Bush Administration, but now that I have had a chance to reflect on it and now that I have had to make some of the same judgment calls that President Bush made, I have come to understand that they did the best that they could under trying circumstances, and they got more of them right than they did wrong.” I mean, look at just this week. He has admitted that the Israel/Palestine situation is far more difficult than he had realized, that the Palestinians are at best a very unreliable partner for peace. He has admitted that he can’t meet his very rash deadline for closing Guantanamo and processing and transferring prisoners there, and I think that deep down he understands that while Gitmo was highly imperfect, it was about the best of a number of bad options. And now he acknowledges that there are some captives who will have to be held indefinitely. Rush Limbaugh said today that if Bush and Obama squared off in a Presidential election right now, Bush would beat him. I’m beginning to think that Dick Cheney would too.

    JVW (48cbba)

  20. then there is no way to guarantee that other people aren’t being wrongfully declared enemy combatants and then disappeared.

    Does this mean that you oppose the missle strikes at targets in places like Yemen and Afghanistan and Pakistan? Those do more than detain people without independent oversight, they kill people without independent oversight.

    Subotai (683ac2)

  21. No; those are acts of war against a foreign state. Indefinite detention of individuals is a weapon which can be trained on anyone. It’s probably a necessary evil given the nature of the enemy we are currently fighting; but it’s a dangerous weapon whose use should be carefully circumscribed.

    Indefinite detention of political enemies is a tool which has been used by tyrannies throughout history. We should not vest the American executive with power which can be used to ape those tyrannies without providing procedural safeguards to guarantee that he isn’t doing so.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  22. No; those are acts of war against a foreign state.

    Come on, they’re the same people in both cases. We’re not taking out Aunt May with Hellfire missiles, and we’re not locking her up without trial either.

    Indefinite detention of political enemies is a tool which has been used by tyrannies throughout history.

    It is. But are you really claiming that that’s what is going on here? I suppose in some sense the people at Gitmo can be called “political enemies”, but that’s blurring things rather then clarifying them.

    In spite of that some of the nuttier members of the netroots are hoping for, and the more unhinged people on the right are fearing, I don’t think there is much chance that Obama is going to arrest Rush Limbaugh and detain him without trial. And if he does, I don’t see the courts or Congress or the American people lettng him get away with it.

    To paraphrase Obama, “we are the check on power we’ve been waiting for”.

    Subotai (683ac2)

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  26. “Otherwise there is nothing other than faith in the benifecence of the executive to ensure that the power is not being abused by holding people who pose no actual threat or who are merely political enemies of the current officeholder.”

    aphrael – I disagree. That attitude betrays the same basic mistrust of America’s institutions which you describe the left has of corporations. It must be a pernicious and a dark existence to live such feelings. To enable an executive to get away with imprisoning merely political enemies requires the collusion and dishonesty and oath breaking on the part of so many people, I find it difficult to conceive of it happening for any length of time.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  27. But are you really claiming that that’s what is going on here?

    No. I’m claiming that the same exact procedures in use here could be in use there, and that absent an external check there’s no way to tell which is actually going on.

    To enable an executive to get away with imprisoning merely political enemies requires the collusion and dishonesty and oath breaking on the part of so many people, I find it difficult to conceive of it happening for any length of time.

    It’s happened numerous times in history; I see no compelling reason to believe that our leaders would be immune to the temptation, nor that their followers would be immune to the temptation of the benefits that would accrue to them by participating.

    aphrael (73ebe9)

  28. To enable an executive to get away with imprisoning merely political enemies requires the collusion and dishonesty and oath breaking on the part of so many people, I find it difficult to conceive of it happening for any length of time.

    Just because it would be hard to pull off, and would require the cooperation of many people, does not mean it can never happen.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  29. “It’s happened numerous times in history”

    aphrael – What examples do you have in the U.S.? What examples are you citing from democratic societies?

    daleyrocks (718861)

  30. Daley, what makes you so absolutely certain that a charismatic person in the White House couldn’t get enough people to get away with a Stalin-like imprisoning of dissidents?

    For that matter, what makes you so certain that a significantly powerful majority in Congress couldn’t create laws criminalizing certain behavior that would make it easy to even publicly lock up people who disagree?

    All it takes is the right sort of “hate speech” laws, and a lot of people critical of an administration would be spending time in jail.

    Like I said – just because it would be difficult or unlikely doesn’t mean it could never happen.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  31. Scott – Now you’re talking about the passage of specific new laws to address the situation, not something under our current laws. That’s not the scenario which was under discussion, sorry.

    Hey, the Stalin type discussion is great if you want to go there, but I didn’t think we were talking extreme paranoia, spy novel, black helicopter, conspiracy theory fantasies here. Just ask yourself to assign some probabilities to the outcomes you suggested and decide whether it should keep you awake at night.

    Get real!

    daleyrocks (718861)

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