Skip to main content

Barack Obama: The War and Torture President

Glenn Greenwald - One of the most intense controversies of the Bush years was the administration's indefinite imprisoning of "War on Terror" detainees without charges of any kind. So absolute was the consensus among progressives and Democrats against this policy that a well-worn slogan was invented to object: a "legal black hole." Liberal editorial pagesroutinely cited the refusal to charge the detainees -- not the interrogation practices there -- in order to brand the camp a "dungeon," a "gulag," a "tropical purgatory," and a "black-hole embarrassment." As late as 2007,Democratic Senators like Pat Leahy, on the floor of the Senate, cited the due-process-free imprisonments to rail against Guantanamo as "a national disgrace, an international embarrassment to us and to our ideals, and a festering threat to our security," as well as "a legal black hole that dishonors our principles." Leahy echoed the Democratic consensus when he said:

The Administration consistently insists that these detainees pose a threat to the safety of Americans. Vice President Cheney said that the other day. If that is true, there must be credible evidence to support it. If there is such evidence, then they should prosecute these people.

Leahy also insisted that the Constitution assigns the power to regulate detentions to Congress, not the President, and thus cited Bush's refusal to seek Congressional authorization for these detentions as a prime example of Bush's abuse of executive power and shredding of the Constitution.

But all year along, Barack Obama -- even as he called for the closing of Guantanamo -- has been strongly implying that he will retain George Bush's due-process-free system by continuing to imprison detainees without charges of any kind. In his May "civil liberties" speech cynically delivered at the National Archives in front of the U.S. Constitution, Obama announced that he would seek from Congress a law authorizing and governing the President's power to imprison detainees indefinitely and without charges. But in September, the administration announced hechanged his mind: rather than seek a law authorizing these detentions, he would instead simply claim that Congress already "implicitly" authorized these powers when it enacted the 2001 AUMF against Al Qaeda -- thereby,as The New York Times put it, "adopting one of the arguments advanced by the Bush administration in years of debates about detention policies." Read more.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Hydro-Quebec Ends Cyber-Security Agreement With Israel Electric Corporation