New Obama EO establishes indefinite detention at Gitmo

posted at 1:36 pm on March 8, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Allahpundit noted yesterday the reversal of Barack Obama on the issue of military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, but as it turns out, that was not the most significant about-face at the White House yesterday.  The Washington Post reports that Obama paired the executive order restarting the military commissions with another that re-establishes indefinite detention of dozens of inmates at Gitmo, a practice that Obama blasted as a candidate during the 2008 election cycle:

President Obama signed an executive order Monday that will create a formal system of indefinite detention for those held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who continue to pose a significant threat to national security. The administration also said it will start new military commission trials for detainees there.

The announcements, coming more than two years after Obama vowed in another executive order to close the detention center, all but cements Guantanamo Bay’s continuing role in U.S. counterterrorism policy. …

Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the order vindicated Obama’s predecessor. “I commend the Obama Administration for issuing this Executive Order,” he said in a statement. “The bottom line is that it affirms the Bush Administration policy that our government has the right to detain dangerous terrorists until the cessation of hostilities.”

The executive order applies to at least 48 of the 172 detainees who remain at Guantanamo Bay. An inter-agency panel led by Justice Department lawyers determined that this group could not be prosecuted in military commissions or in federal court because evidentiary problems would hamper a trial. But intelligence assessments also concluded that these detainees remain a serious threat and could not be safely repatriated or resettled in a third country. The administration said it will hold reviews for detainees it plans to prosecute but has not charged.

As King states, the policy of holding those captured in a time of war until the end of hostilities has simply been common practice in warfare for centuries.  The problem this creates for these specific detainees, who are also unlawful combatants under the rules of war and therefore not covered by most of the Geneva conventions for POWs, is that this war will almost certainly have no formal end.  However, that is not the fault of the US but of the terrorists that have conducted warfare against America for almost 20 years, going back to the first World Trade Center attack and through the deadly suicide attack on the USS Cole before 9/11.

When the Bush administration made that argument, his political opponents accused him of “shredding the Constitution,” among other acts, and demanded habeas corpus rights through the federal courts.  Barack Obama was one of those critics, arguing in June 2007 that not only did Gitmo need to be closed but that “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.”  Even before taking office, his team began hitting the backup lights on that statement, however.  By May 2009, Obama himself began hinting that Bush’s policy may not have been so bad after all.

Obama can certainly try to shift blame on the military-commissions reversal on a balking Congress.  It’s going to be more difficult to say the same with indefinite detention.  Those 48 cases wouldn’t have come to the federal courts in any circumstances, whether Congress blocked funding for detainee transfers or not.  Obama had a choice to put them up for military commissions and let the chips fall where they may, but apparently doesn’t want to risk letting some very dangerous men out of Gitmo to have them return to conducting warfare against the US.  That’s entirely Obama’s decision.  Will he have the grace to admit that his predecessor made the right call on refusing to release unlawful combatants while hostilities continue?  I’d call that … unlikely.


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Bush – right again.

I love it!

RedNewEnglander on March 8, 2011 at 1:38 PM

Everything old is new again!

Bush ideas are all the rage, again!

Schadenfreude on March 8, 2011 at 1:38 PM

Count it!

rogerb on March 8, 2011 at 1:39 PM

Wow, I can’t to see the massive antiwar protests, the giant papier mache’ Obama heads, the…

Oh, never mind. There are no antiwar protests when a Democrat is in the White House.

Ward Cleaver on March 8, 2011 at 1:39 PM

PIMF.

Ward Cleaver on March 8, 2011 at 1:40 PM

When will this ‘promise’ expire?

Round about mid-election/campaign year 2012 perhaps?

catmman on March 8, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Obama and the WH on the Gunwalker scandal:

White House pleads ignorance to ‘Project Gunwalker’

“White House press secretary Jay Carney did not shed any light Monday on the allegations uncovered by CBS News that ATF intentionally let thousands of assault rifles and other weapons fall into the hands of Mexico’s drug cartels. Insiders call the controversial practice letting guns ‘walk’,”

When questioned by chief White House correspondent Chip Reid if President Obama was “aware of the specific allegations,” Carney replied “I don’t know.”

This story now officially reaches all the way up to the White House.

Insert witty screen name here on March 8, 2011 at 1:41 PM

…..can someone please hop over to the KOOKY left sites like Daily Kos and Huffpo / Democratic Underground to see if any heads have ‘sploded?

They love the Wrecking Ball.

He’ll turn his attention to “THE BANKERS” and “Greed on Wall Street” and they’ll all be on their knees again.

PappyD61 on March 8, 2011 at 1:41 PM

So is PBHO a war criminal now?

MJBrutus on March 8, 2011 at 1:42 PM

We’re going to lead by example – by not just word but by deed.

yeah, Bush’s example.

That rhetorical boomerang you threw back then has now come right back around to clock you champ. ah well.

ted c on March 8, 2011 at 1:43 PM

I foresee effigies?

ted c on March 8, 2011 at 1:43 PM

Our Nitwit President continues his on-the-job training, one mistake at a time, learning how to do everything that Bush did. Maybe we should have left Bush in office for the first term to babysit Barry?

First he decided Bush was right on Afghanistan and Iraq, then tax cuts, Gitmo, and now terrorist detention policy. O’Blather is the single most effective opponent to Obamacare, giving 1000 businesses a waiver to avoid this money-sucking abyss.

If he wasn’t an idiot and a liar, I’d say he was a pretty effective President.

Jaibones on March 8, 2011 at 1:44 PM

So is PBHO a war criminal now?

MJBrutus on March 8, 2011 at 1:42 PM

Nope, just a recruiter for Al Qaeda.

darwin-t on March 8, 2011 at 1:44 PM

Obama; campaigning against his other half.

Electrongod on March 8, 2011 at 1:45 PM

But weren’t we told many many times that Gitmo was the foremost recruiting tool for the jihadists? And didn’t indefinite detention run contrary to our “shared values?”

And everything that Bush did was just plain wrong?

So…when it comes to GWOT why is Obama doing everything that Bush intended to be done?

coldwarrior on March 8, 2011 at 1:45 PM

don’t get paint on them comfy shoes as you walk yourself out of the corner you painted yourself into, champ.

ted c on March 8, 2011 at 1:46 PM

Waiting for Code Pink to accuse start protesting Obama…………*crickets*

search4truth on March 8, 2011 at 1:46 PM

Waiting for Code Pink to accuse start protesting Obama…………*crickets*

search4truth on March 8, 2011 at 1:46 PM

Nice English! I mean to say Waiting for Code Pink to accuse Dumbo of war crimes and start protesting Obama…..*crickets*

search4truth on March 8, 2011 at 1:48 PM

I see another Nobel prize for Obama in the future. He is very smart.

Electrongod on March 8, 2011 at 1:49 PM

….Change!!

Suckers!

Shiny_Tiara on March 8, 2011 at 1:49 PM

First smart decision Obama has made in the two years he’s been President. I wonder why the EO signing ceremony wasn’t carried by all the MSM like the first one. /sarc off/

TulsAmerican on March 8, 2011 at 1:51 PM

Electrongod on March 8, 2011 at 1:49 PM

Clean and articulate, too, I’ve been told. /

coldwarrior on March 8, 2011 at 1:51 PM

President Barack Hussein G.W.B. Obama

If this man told me that I would get wet if I walked outside during a hurricane I would not believe him.

This man is nothing but a lie spewing lies. Nothing about him is the truth, or at the very least exposed to sunlight. Even his name is manufactured for maximum effect.

turfmann on March 8, 2011 at 1:52 PM

Hilarious. What a clown.

The pic should be the one with the fly on his lip.

aquaviva on March 8, 2011 at 1:53 PM

Now, is he sending up some Big Ears Home Brew freshly made from the White House? I hear it is more style than substance…..

search4truth on March 8, 2011 at 1:54 PM

Obama tells us not to listen to Rush, but if he had listened he would have know this was going to happen long ago. The difference is that Rush is an adult. Obama is a petulant delinquent who thinks socialism is neat.

SKYFOX on March 8, 2011 at 1:54 PM

know = known

SKYFOX on March 8, 2011 at 1:55 PM

Dear Liberals – Q.E.D.

Right on March 8, 2011 at 1:55 PM

Libtards begin exploding in 4…3…2…1…while those of us on the right point and laugh!

Gothguy on March 8, 2011 at 1:56 PM

Change…!

I don’t think that word means what you think it means Mr. President…

heh.

catmman on March 8, 2011 at 1:56 PM

This is worse than it was before.
Before these detentions were clearly temporary. Now with the EO, there is an established basis for permanent detention, something that outside of the rules of war is anathema to America.

J_Crater on March 8, 2011 at 1:58 PM

All of this is true only when there is a democrat president. None of this is true when there is a republican president, especially conservative republican.

Everyone knows this, we’ve had this debate before.

Skandia Recluse on March 8, 2011 at 1:58 PM

First smart decision Obama has made in the two years he’s been President.

TulsAmerican on March 8, 2011 at 1:51 PM

Well I wouldn’t go that far. If he made a decision that resulted in something substantial that came out of the large cranium of his…then I would give him credit.
All he did is step out of the way and let the existing system that was in place, do its job.
Obama; a wrench in the gears.

Electrongod on March 8, 2011 at 1:59 PM

Throw the right a bone, then hit them hard with more policies bent on destroying them, and the nation.

capejasmine on March 8, 2011 at 2:00 PM

“Let me be clear: that was then…” -Obooba.

Akzed on March 8, 2011 at 2:03 PM

Still in eternal campaign mode with this kind of talk and drinking his own WH brew…Wait….give it time….it will change….again.

sicoit on March 8, 2011 at 2:05 PM

All of Scooter’s promises come with an exparation date and an escape clause.

kingsjester on March 8, 2011 at 2:07 PM

However, that is not the fault of the US but of the terrorists that have conducted warfare against America for almost 20over 30 years, going back to the assault on the US Embassy in Tehran, through the first World Trade Center attack and through the deadly suicide attack on the USS Cole before 9/11.

hindmost on March 8, 2011 at 2:07 PM

Progressives sure are a bunch of dupes.

forest on March 8, 2011 at 2:10 PM

Odds on Obama saying that this was inherited from the previous administration? 1e200:1

Odds on Obama claiming this is an innovative policy created by him and his superstar DoJ team? 2:1

Odds that Eric Holder ignores Vinson’s ruling for more than the 7 days allotted? 1:1

Geministorm on March 8, 2011 at 2:11 PM

BTW, can someone remind me why these guys are still alive and untried?

Geministorm on March 8, 2011 at 2:13 PM

Problem is…we’ve too many white men running our military. /

coldwarrior on March 8, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Obama: We must not repeat the same failed policies of the past, except when they succeed.

For all of Obama’s obsession with blaming George W. Bush for all the “evils” of the world, imitation is the best form of flattery.

Somewhere behind a brush pile in Crawford, Texas, from under a cowboy hat comes a wry whisper, “I tolja so!”

Like most bad ideas, Obama’s first EO had a shorter shelf life than Prohibition. ObamaCare next?

Steve Z on March 8, 2011 at 2:17 PM

Just another sneaky ploy by POTUS to inject Bush back into the race for 2012. He can now rail against and promise to shut GITMO down again.

Koa on March 8, 2011 at 2:21 PM

“Everything old is new again!”

Great tag line!

This must be Obama in the bizarro world. It’s like when Superman reversed the Earth spinning to turn back time! Ahh, me so happy!

Mr_Magoo on March 8, 2011 at 2:23 PM

Obama could just re-instate the rules Lincoln put in for captured partisans… we all adore President Lincoln!

Mind you it would clean out Gitmo in almost no time at all.

ajacksonian on March 8, 2011 at 2:23 PM

We know for a fact that those war protests were at best gullible and at worst contrived.

It is the exact same thing going on in WI. There are at least 2 states, CA and NY, that are basically doing the same thing as Walker is but we don’t hear about them at all. We are treated to a 24/7 media circus because Walker is Republican, period.

Mord on March 8, 2011 at 2:24 PM

It’s okay as long as the right people are ordering indefinite detentions. Before, it was a bunch of white, middle America, gun-toting racists doing so. That was bad.

Kensington on March 8, 2011 at 2:35 PM

“He locked them up without a trial/
And threw away the key/
Mmm Mmm Mmm
Barack Hussein Obama”

I can’t wait to see the kids sing this version on Youtube.

Kensington on March 8, 2011 at 2:39 PM

Yet the DOJ still wants to try Kahlin Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian trial for masterminding the 9/11 attack.

onlineanalyst on March 8, 2011 at 3:33 PM

WTF??? What happened to “Hope and Change”???

Daily Kos and Progress Now ain’t gonna like this.

bannedbyhuffpo on March 8, 2011 at 4:08 PM

I’m trying to figure out, is this the universe where Obama’s got the beard, or is that the other one?

JEM on March 8, 2011 at 4:25 PM

The fierce moral urgency of change! suddenly not so fierce, moral, or urgent once you actually have to live and function in the real world, eh Barry?

Jerk.

AZCoyote on March 8, 2011 at 4:29 PM

Grow Fins nowhere to be seen. I’m shocked.

meh, these troll kryptonite threads are boring.

Scrappy on March 8, 2011 at 4:34 PM

I’m trying to figure out, is this the universe where Obama’s got the beard, or is that the other one?

JEM on March 8, 2011 at 4:25 PM

This is the universe where Obama prances about shirtless with a fencing sword in his hand…

Chris Matthews is still swooning

Roy Rogers on March 8, 2011 at 5:06 PM

I wonder why the old liberal media haven’t asked little Bammie about interrogation procedures and extraordinary rendition? Probably because they are terrified that the answer might be that the same procedures are being followed as during the administration of President George W. Bush.

slickwillie2001 on March 8, 2011 at 6:28 PM

President Hypocrite strikes again!

GarandFan on March 8, 2011 at 6:37 PM

This is truly shaping up for one of the greatest PR campaigns for president. All the Republicans have to do is run his old campaigns adds and at the end post the date he lied or changed his mind.He can’t run an effective ad campaign.
No new taxes…he lied
No lobbyists…. he lied
Close Gitmo… he lied.
Lower unemployment…he lied
It goes on and on.

BruceB on March 8, 2011 at 7:50 PM

Bush-league, more ways the one!

chickasaw42 on March 8, 2011 at 8:49 PM