Obama Drafting Executive Order For Indefinite Detention Of Gitmo Detainees
Barack Obama, campaigned on the promise that he would close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, signed an Executive Order mandating the same on his first day in office, and spent the better part of the past 18 months trying to find a way to try the mastermind of the September 11th attacks in a civilian court. Now, he’s apparently in the process of drafting an Executive Order that would authorize the indefinite detention of detainees:
The White House is preparing an Executive Order on indefinite detention that will provide periodic reviews of evidence against dozens of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, according to several administration officials.
The draft order, a version of which was first considered nearly 18 months ago, is expected to be signed by President Obama early in the New Year. The order allows for the possibility that detainees from countries like Yemen might be released if circumstances there change.
But the order establishes indefinite detention as a long-term Obama administration policy and makes clear that the White House alone will manage a review process for those it chooses to hold without charge or trial.
If signed by President Obama, the new order will provide added review for detainees designated for long-term detention. The order, which is being drafted jointly by White House staff in the National Security council and the White House counsel, will offer detainees in this category a minimal review every six months and then a more lengthy annual review. Detainees will have access to an attorney, to some evidence against them and the ability to challenge their continued detention.
Prisoners who have been deemed “high-value detainees,” including the alleged conspirators of the 2001 attacks, have been designated for prosecution in civilian or military courts.
“It’s been clear for a while that the government would need to put in place some sort of periodic review, and that it would want it to improve on the annual review procedures used during the previous administration,” said Matthew Waxman, a professor at Columbia Law School who worked on detainee issues during the Bush administration.
It’s been clear from the beginning that we needed some kind of policy to govern detainees captured during the so-called War on Terror, but I’m not at all certain that this is the way to do it. Ruling by Executive Decree is not compatible with life in a democratic republic, and the failure of Congress to act here has been unconscionable.
Update: Over at Hot Air’s Green Room, Jazz Shaw makes note of one other thing about this announcement; that it represents yet another case of President Obama backing away from a campaign promise:
Going through the details of this plan, a shorter translation might be, “We still oppose the policies of George W. Bush regarding indefinite detention without trial for any suspect, so we’re going to handle every aspect of the situation differently unless we can’t.”
Yea, that about sums it up.