open.salon.com | May 22, 2009
Obama proposed a new system of Indefinite Preventive Detention yesterday in his National Security speech that is, stunning in its illegality.
Obama is proposing we keep people locked up not for the crimes they have committed and we prove they committed in a court of law, but on the chance that they might commit crimes in the future. There will be no trial, for no crime exists to be charged. There is only the nebulous threat of "future acts" to justify depriving people of their liberty potentially indefinitely.
Is this justice?
Imagine you are picked up off the street for daring to write something provocative in your blog. Perhaps you vaguely threaten to relocate to Afghanistan and work with a humanitarian aid organization there. Unkown to you the humanitarian aid organization might possibly be associated with the Afghan resistence. Perhaps the head of the aid organization is the third cousin twice removed of a suspected warlord causing our march for empire trouble on the border. Based on that alone you could be kept in a cell forever. After all, letting you out of that cell might mean you really would do what you threatened and we can't have that.
Don't think it couldn't happen.
Read here the story of a red crescent worker arrested for perhaps having the phone number of a possibly terror related individual, Take a Walk in Lakhdar Boumediene's Shoes. Our government kidnapped Boumediene, tortured him, kept him in a cell for seven years and seven months, had him sign an agreement not to sue and then deported him last week.
Many men have been swept up off the streets these past eight years not for what they did or said or who they knew and associated with, but based on anonymous and aften false accusations from third parties who in return collected bounties equal to several year's wages. Many thousands still languish in our cells around the world with no hope of a hearing or legitimate trial and now Obama is proposing a system that will allow uncharged detainees to be held without trial FOREVER and he wants to make this system "legal." Maybe the DOJ will start producing memos to back Obama up.
Indefinite detention with no trial is unconstitutional and morally abhorrent. Bush would never have been allowed to get away with it and indeed the American Civil Liberties Union and Center for Constitutional Rights have fought de facto indefinite detention for years now.
So the question now is will Obama worship, unthinking partisanship, and irrational fear rule the day and allow this grotesque new proposal to come (officially and quasi-legally) into existence?
You who think Obama cannot do wrong (hope! change!) despite the growing number of civilian corpses and refugees in Af/Pak due to his policies need to start paying more attention to what he is really doing and saying.
On this issue Obama is proving that the new boss may in fact be worse than the old boss.
If you don't believe Obama really plans to lock people up potentially forever for "future crimes," Rachel Maddow lays it all out coherently and eloquently in the Youtube clip above which includes footage of Obama proposing and justifying this new system of indefinite preventive detention.
The ACLU doesn't miss a trick and their Executive Director, Anthony D. Romero, has already responded:
"We welcome President Obama's stated commitment to the Constitution, the rule of law and the unequivocal rejection of torture. But unlike the president, we believe that continuing with the failed military commissions and creating a new system of indefinite detention without charge is inconsistent with the values that he expressed so eloquently at the National Archives today."
From the NY Times article on Obama's speech: “It is very troubling that he (Obama) is intent on codifying in legislation the Bush policies of indefinite detention without charge,” Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU, said after the speech. “That simply flies in the face of established American legal principle.”
Other sources - Obama Is Said to Consider Preventive Detention Plan (NY Times), Obama Endorses Indefinite Detention Without Trial for Some (Washington Post), CCR: Obama Embraces Indefinite Detention, Not Meaningfully Different From Bush (TPM), Obama in Bush Clothing (Washington Post), Terror suspects face indefinite detention after Guantánamo (Financial Times), Facts and myths about Obama's preventive detention proposal (Glenn Greenwald of Salon).