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While the defense authorization bill was under consideration, the administration has been quietly working on an executive order to formalized indefinite detention without trial for problematic detainees. Anonymous officials speaking to both The New York Times and The Washington Post said the executive order would create a revised review process, one that was “more adversarial,” like that of a court room. Prisoners would then have the ablity to contest their detainment more vigorously. In addition, White House officials related that “detainees who have lost their habeas [corpus] petition [will have] the prospect of one day ending their time in U.S. custody,” according to The Washington Post. But is this for Guantanamo optics? For prisoner psychology? For the actual possibility of releasing terrorists? From the details we have now, the new plan is concerning.
What is ironic, as The New York Times pointed out, is that many on the Obama team were once critical of the president’s predecessor, President George W. Bush, for being too unilateral with counterterrorism measures. Yet, the plan in the works for indefinite detainees will be enacted through an executive order, the Times presumes, because the administration fears legislation from the Congress would be too “draconian.” If this is true, we should be clear about what this means: the administration is apparently concerned the Congress will be too harsh on captured terrorists, each of whom has a dossier of inculpating evidence showing them to be “too dangerous” to be release. If the administration accepts they are too dangerous, then their guilt and status as fanatical killers has already been established. Why the White House continually goes to such lengths to protect the interests of these individuals, which will in the end amount to agonizing over courtroom procedural minutia, is almost incomprehensible.
Leftist “human rights” groups such as Human Rights Watch and the ACLU are predictably upset with both the transfer ban and the Obama administration’s resignation to indefinite detention. After his first taste of serious criticism from the Left over the Obama-GOP tax deal, which prevented tax hikes for all, even wealthy Americans, Obama seems to be on the cusp of delivering another resounding disappointment to his left-wing base. At this juncture, problematic detainees will likely never be moved from Guantanamo Bay. And military commissions are here to stay. Perhaps for the better.
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