Going backwards on indefinite detention, too?

posted at 1:34 pm on November 15, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Earlier today, I noted that Barack Obama’s team has started hinting that they will move back towards John McCain’s position on interrogation techniqiues.  Now supporters of Obama who have criticized the Bush administration’s position on indefinite detention have begun rethinking that policy as well:

As a presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama sketched the broad outlines of a plan to close the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba: try detainees in American courts and reject the Bush administration’s military commission system.

Now, as Mr. Obama moves closer to assuming responsibility for Guantánamo, his pledge to close the detention center is bringing to the fore thorny questions under consideration by his advisers. They include where Guantánamo’s detainees could be held in this country, how many might be sent home and a matter that people with ties to the Obama transition team say is worrying them most: What if some detainees are acquitted or cannot be prosecuted at all?

That concern is at the center of a debate among national security, human rights and legal experts that has intensified since the election. Even some liberals are arguing that to deal realistically with terrorism, the new administration should seek Congressional authority for preventive detention of terrorism suspects deemed too dangerous to release even if they cannot be successfully prosecuted.

“You can’t be a purist and say there’s never any circumstance in which a democratic society can preventively detain someone,” said one civil liberties lawyer, David D. Cole, a Georgetown law professor who has been a critic of the Bush administration.

You can’t?  That’s all we’ve heard from the close-Gitmo crowd for the last seven years.  Indefinite detention supposedly violates American values, we’re losing the war if we adapt to the threat against us, blah blah blah.  Certainly Barack Obama never gave any indication of nuanced thinking along the lines of indefinite detention during the last two years while campaigning for the presidency.  In fact, Obama made the absolutist case that Cole now belatedly rejects in June 2007:

“While we’re at it,” he said, “we’re going to close Guantanamo. And we’re going to restore habeas corpus. … We’re going to lead by example _ by not just word but by deed. That’s our vision for the future.

Now that Obama has to live with these decisions and not simply snipe from the sidelines, the game appears to have changed.  A month ago, the NYT’s editorial board scoffed at the Bush administration’s efforts to keep Gitmo detainees from being released as merely a way to avoid bad press and not to keep dangerous people from killing Americans.  Suddenly, the New York Times discovers that the American system does allow for indefinite detention to protect society from dangerous individuals without full-blown criminal trials — as with the criminally insane.

So what happens when the incoming Obama administration decides to continue indefinite detention and back away from Feinstein’s bill on interrogation techniques?  Not only will the MoveOn/Code Pink crowd utterly revolt, but it will force a re-evaluation of the Bush administration’s efforts to keep this nation safe from attack — and the success he had in doing so.


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Comment pages: 1 2 3

I’ll bet all you criminally stupid, slobbering liberals who thought 0bama was the cure for all this country’s ills are feeling more than a little stupid right about now aren’t you?

Wait, it’s only beginning.

Scott on November 16, 2008 at 7:46 PM

I say we all come together and FORCE obama to walk that talk. close gitmo , either give those people a trial or let them go. See what happens. If we are attacked by them again , then we know that curious george’s idea was TERRIBLE. We have to hold his feet to the fire.
Make them/Force them to back up all that talk on how bad gitmo is.

We cannot nor should we, allow obama to walk away from ANY promise he made. He wanted to be president, now lets force him to play with the big boys.

ColdWarrior57 on November 16, 2008 at 10:39 PM

I’ll bet all you criminally stupid, slobbering liberals who thought 0bama was the cure for all this country’s ills are feeling more than a little stupid right about now aren’t you?

Wait, it’s only beginning.

Scott on November 16, 2008 at 7:46 PM

Bull, is that you? Welcome aboard!

Greg Toombs on November 17, 2008 at 10:49 AM

Maybe the Gitmo closers have learned a lesson from the environmental lobby: Not In My Back Yard.

Neither pollution nor terrorists.

Steve Z on November 17, 2008 at 11:09 AM

P. S. What would an aquitted Gitmo detainee do to Michelle’s children? Buy them a puppy? Er, guess again.

Steve Z on November 17, 2008 at 11:11 AM

It was easy for Obama to stand on his soapbox and sell sweet platitudes about human rights while he was a candidate. Maybe he’s gotten an education from that brain-dead simpleton named George W. Bush about how dangerous those sub-human creatures are, and if they were set loose in the United States, they would either blow something up or be lynched, and Obama would be blamed.

If Obama really wants to close Gitmo, he would have only one real choice–send the prisoners back to Afghanistan. But what would Hamid Karzai do to them? Probably something outside the Army Field Manual or the Geneva Convention–if Karzai were humane, he would choose a firing squad.

Steve Z on November 17, 2008 at 11:25 AM

May I point out that we held Japanese and German prisoners indefinitely in WWII until their countries ceased hostilities and that was perfectly legal, moral, and just. Likewise, it is perfectly legal, moral, and just to hold Muslim terrorists in Gitmo until their parent organizations cease hostitlities against America. The fact that Islam declares perpetual war on the non-Muslim world until all the world submits to Allah is their problem, not ours, and they should bear the burden for their belligerence, not us.

After all, how hard is it to give up killing people for your religion?

Tantor on November 17, 2008 at 12:54 PM

Liberals and lovers of our enemies follow these instructions. Get out your tissue boxes because your Lord and Savior is going to have to make decisions as a leader of a country at war not decisions as a nutball looking for losers like you and your cooky friends votes. I am sure he will make you fruitcakes happy alot but I also know he can’t be a leftists like you want if he hopes to be reelected.

Irvin88 on November 17, 2008 at 2:15 PM

All I got to say is -

Those WH chefs better prepare tons and tons of waffles!
Maybe The One will gain 30 lb real soon.

/’Let me finish my waffles (first)!’

Sir Napsalot on November 17, 2008 at 2:38 PM

The easy whitewashing solution is to close Guantanamo and reopen it the next day under a euphemism. We could call it the May-day detention center. Any other recommendations? Euphemisms always work.

anti-boomer on November 18, 2008 at 10:26 PM

After all the finger-pointing at the Bush mistakes and the blame Bush rhetoric, “Mr. Armchair Quarterback” refuses to change the play. What a whiny cheese-weenie looser.

All through his campaign and though the debates he kept saying that the economy, the war, global warming, etc. was all President Bush’s fault. Well now is your chance to correct all that, hero. Now is your chance to put your freakin’ money where your mouth is. Go out on a limb and make a change instead of voting “Present”.

What a freakin’ looser.

DuctTapeMyBrain on November 19, 2008 at 7:56 AM

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