Obama Inching Towards Bush View Ending Habeas Corpus

Sunday, June 28, 2009
(graphic: aporkinthedrawer.blogspot.com)

After months of reviewing the cases of Guantánamo detainees, the Obama administration has reached the same conclusions as the Bush White House: Forget the courts (both military and civilian), forget Congress, and just keep suspected terrorists locked up indefinitely. President Barack Obama is now having his aides draw up language for an executive order that will allow the U.S. government to continue keeping almost 100 detainees in prison without any trial—a violation of the right of habeas corpus that’s been justified in the name of national security.

In a speech at the National Archives on May 21, President Obama declared that, “We must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded. They can’t be based simply on what I or the Executive Branch decide alone.” Yet, according to a report by ProPublica and The Washington Post, less than six weeks later, that’s exactly what the president intends to do, after deciding it would take too long and be too politically risky to ask Congress for permission to continue holding detainees (possibly through the creation of a special “national security court”) because some in his own party might make too much noise over such a request.
When Obama took over in January, there were 242 men imprisoned at Guantánamo. That number now stands at 229, following the release or transfer of 11 detainees, one suicide and one sent to New York for trial. About half of those left will either be tried or freed, according to reports, but approximately 90 detainees are deemed too dangerous to let go and impossible to convict either because the evidence against them is classified and can’t be divulged or it was obtained during interrogations involving torture.
-Noel Brinkerhoff


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