Detention by executive decree

The White House is preparing an Executive Order on indefinite detention that will provide periodic reviews of evidence against dozens of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, according to several administration officials.

The draft order, a version of which was first considered nearly 18 months ago, is expected to be signed by President Obama early in the New Year. The order allows for the possibility that detainees from countries like Yemen might be released if circumstances there change.

But the order establishes indefinite detention as a long-term Obama administration policy and makes clear that the White House alone will manage a review process for those it chooses to hold without charge or trial.

via ProPublica.

Going through the details of this plan, a shorter translation might be, “We still oppose the policies of George W. Bush regarding indefinite detention without trial for any suspect, so we’re going to handle every aspect of the situation differently unless we can’t.”

The major changes seem to be:

1. We’re not going to call it indefinite detention anymore. We’ll call it prolonged detention, even if that means, prolonged until you reach room temperature.

2. Unlike Bush, we’re going to let the prisoners challenge their detention. Of course, they’ll be challenging it in Gitmo without an actual lawyer and it won’t change anything, but they can challenge it, dagnabit!

3. We will move vigorously toward relocating the prisoners, either to the United States or some other country, and closing the facility in Cuba… unless Congress says we can’t, in which case we’ll leave it open.

via The Greenroom.

Ruling by Executive Decree is not compatible with life in a democratic republic, and the failure of Congress to act here has been unconscionable.

via Outside the Beltway.

It is interesting how much more uproar there is over the Transportation Security Administration’s scanning at airports, or the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping on e-mail, than there is over President Bush’s claim of the authority torture, President Obama’s claim of the authority to order assassinations and both of their claims of the authority to imprison people without charging or trying them for a specific crime.

The reason is that we who do not have dark skins, or Arabic-sounding names, or “Muslim garb” imagine that only these other people will be imprisoned, tortured or killed.  Someday the American equivalent of a Pastor Niemoller may say, “First they came for the Muslims…”

President George W. Bush said terrorists hate us Americans for our freedoms.  We have fewer freedoms for them to hate since he made that statement, but I don’t think that makes safer.

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