Tag Archive: Indefinite Detention

Jul 11 2013

Comey Set To Be Confirmed

If anyone, at this point, thinks that President Barack Obama would a change from the Bush administration, his nomination of James Comey to be FBI Director should be proof that any change from the past was a delusion. Besides his record of approving torture, indefinite detention and warrantless wiretapping, at his confirmation hearing Comey defended current US surveillance practices.

James Comey defends US surveillance practices at FBI confirmation hearing

by Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian

Former deputy attorney general who famously rebelled against warrantless spying in 2004 declines to criticise current policy

James Comey, the former US deputy attorney general, said Tuesday that the secret surveillance court that approves wiretapping requests is “anything but a rubber stamp”, even though the so-called Fisa court approves nearly every surveillance request by the government.

“I think folks don’t understand that the FBI operates under a wide variety of constraints,” Comey testified during his confirmation hearing to succeed Robert Mueller as the second director of the bureau since 9/11. The combination of the Fisa court, investigative guidelines from the US attorney general, congressional scrutiny and internal inspectors general are “very effective” at checking FBI abuse, Comey argued.[..]

But Comey declined to criticize the broad, ongoing collection of the phone records when senators asked if they should be scaled back.

Having been out of government since 2005, Comey said that he was “not familiar with the details of the current programs” and did not wish to opine on them. “I do know, as a general matter, the collection and analysis of metadata is a valuable tool in counter-terrorism.”

When questioned about the use of drones, Comey said he did not think drones should be used to kill US citizens in America, but left the door open for cases of “imminent threats.” The precise definition of what circumstances would constitute an “imminent thread” were left unanswered.

Former FBI agent, Colleen Crowley, who was a division legal counsel for 13 years and taught constitutional rights to FBI agents and police, joined Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now! to discuss Comey’s testimony and inevitable confirmation.



Transcript can be read here

At his confirmation hearing to head the FBI, former Bush administration Deputy Attorney General James Comey refused to criticize the broad, ongoing collection of the phone records of Americans and defended the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens deemed to be enemy combatants. Comey also explained why he signed off on a memo authorizing waterboarding while serving under Attorney General John Ashcroft. We get reaction from former special FBI agent Coleen Rowley, who served with the Bureau from 1981 to 2004. The New York Times just published her op-ed titled “Questions for the FBI Nominee.” In 2002, Time magazine named her and two other female whistleblowers as Time’s “Person of the Year,” for warning about the FBI’s failure to help prevent the 9/11 attacks.

What digbt said: What do you have to do to not be eligible for promotion in official Washington?

I’ve always thought it was a mistake for the administration not to pursue prosecutions for the torture regime. It seems like a bad idea for a powerful nation to ignore war crimes. You have to assume that it could blow back on it some time in the future. But since we now know that the presidency is largely a ceremonial position without any power to shape the debate, affect legislation or influence the military industrial complex, it’s clearly awfully tough to do anything at all. Best stick to nice pictures with foreign leaders and leave it at that.

However, even those who view the office as nothing more than a symbol of leadership would have to grant that the president surely has the discretion not to promote the people who signed off on the war crimes.

Jul 05 2013

Comey’s Torture Advocacy Questioned

Try as President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder might to denounce torture their actions with the last round of nominees and appointments to crucial positions speak louder than their words. First is was John Brennan to head the CIA, whose dubious record during the Bush/Cheney regime on torture and covering up war crimes was glossed over by Obama. Then there is Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, an inveterate liar who has a memory problem as well, “I forgot the Patriot Act.” Really? Clapper also served as an executive for Booz Allen Hamilton, a private security company contracted to gather data for the NSA, who employed Edward Snowden.

Now, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Robert Mueller is retiring and who does Obama choose to replace him? Another Bush crony, James B. Comey, who served as deputy attorney general from 2003 to 2005. Comey, as has been hammered by the Obama administration supporters, blocked, along with Mueller, the Bush administration’s attempt to renew a still secret and illegal surveillance program on Americans’ electronic communications. That incident is only part of Comey’s record at DOJ which includes his support of torture, warrantless wiretapping, and indefinite detention. In her article at The Guardian, Laura Murphy reviews Comey stands on these issues and questions just what illegal surveillance program did Comey oppose so much he would resign over it?

On Torture

On 30 December 2004, a memo addressed to James Comey was issued that superseded the infamous memo that defined torture as pain “equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure”. The memo to Comey seemed to renounce torture but did nothing of the sort. The key sentence in the opinion is tucked away in footnote 8. It concludes that the new Comey memo did not change the authorizations of interrogation tactics in any earlier memos.

In short, the memo Comey that approved gave a thumbs-up on waterboarding, wall slams, and other forms of torture – all violations of domestic and international law. [..]

On Warrantless Wiretapping

While, to his credit, (Comey) he immediately began raising concerns (pdf), the program was still in existence when the New York Times exposed it in December 2005. This was a year and a half after Comey’s hospital showdown with Gonzales and Card. In fact, the warrantless wiretapping program was supported by a May 2004 legal opinion (pdf) produced by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and signed off by Comey, which replaced the 2001 legal opinion Comey had problems with (pdf).

This, of course, raises the question: just what illegal surveillance program did Comey oppose so much he would resign over it? Last weekend, the Washington Post provided a new theory: the Marina program, which collects internet metadata. Now, the Senate has an opportunity to end the theorizing and find out what exactly Comey objected to.

On Indefinite Detention

The final stain on Comey’s record was his full-throated defense of the indefinite military detention of an American citizen arrested on American soil. In a June 2004 press conference, Comey told of Jose Padilla, an alleged al-Qaida member accused of plotting to detonate a dirty bomb as well as blow up apartment buildings in an American city. By working for al-Qaida, Padilla, Comey argued, could be deprived of a lawyer and indefinitely detained as an enemy combatant on a military brig off the South Carolina coast for the purpose of extracting intelligence out of him

In a letter to Comey, two Democratic senators, Senators Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, expressed concern on Wednesday about Mr. Comey’s views on waterboarding and his role in approving “enhanced interrogation techniques” while at the Justice Department in the George W. Bush administration. They are asking Comey to explain his e-mail of April, 2005, where he gave his approval of 13 interrogation techniques that included waterboarding.

. . Mr. Comey gave his assent to a Justice Department legal opinion that authorized the C.I.A. to use 13 interrogation methods, including waterboarding and up to 180 hours of sleep deprivation. The opinion “was ready to go out and I concurred,” Mr. Comey wrote to a colleague in an April 27, 2005, e-mail message obtained by The New York Times.

But he said in the e-mail that he disagreed with another legal opinion addressing the “combined effects” of the harsh methods, suggesting that their use in combination might be illegal. He recorded his views in e-mails to Chuck Rosenberg, then his chief of staff, as if deliberately creating a record in case his position might become relevant to his record in the future, as it has.

Appointing Comey to head the FBI is a another slap in the face to voters to whom Mr. Obama promised that he would end the Bush era abuses. Instead, Mr. Obama and his appointees not only continued these programs but covered up the wrong doing of the past, reinforcing and expanding the abuses.

This is what Barack believes.

Jun 12 2012

SCOTUS Blesses Indefinite Detention

Another right further diminished by the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Denies 7 Detainee Cases, Leaving Crippling Limits On Detainee Rights In Place

One day before the fourth anniversary of Boumediene v. Bush, which held that detainees being held indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay have the right to challenge their confinement in federal court, the Supreme Court denied review (pdf) of seven detainee cases that were pending before the court. The decision not to review any of the cases essentially makes the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit the last stop for detainees seeking habeas corpus. While many detainees won their habeas corpus cases at the trial court level, no detainees have been released from Guantanamo due to these decisions because the DC Circuit has a perfect record of reversing these decisions.

Although today’s action does not have any precedential force, it undercuts the extent to which detainees can seriously challenge their detention by leaving the D.C. Circuit’s pro-detention decisions in place [..]

Marcy Wheeler @ emptywheel explains what the Supreme Court has just blessed:

   

  • Holding a person indefinitely for being in the wrong place at the wrong time-including a school, a road, and a guest house-where suspect people are.
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  • Holding a person indefinitely based on an admittedly error-ridden report the government wrote up itself.
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  • Holding a person indefinitely based on pattern analysis.
  •    

  • Completely upending the role of District Court judges in the fact-finding process.
  • The Justices have abdicated their responsibility  to an ever more powerful Executive branch:

    Especially deserving of review was a petition by Adnan Latif, a Yemeni who was captured near the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan in December 2001. Latif said he had traveled to Pakistan to seek medical treatment; the U.S. government insisted that he was a fleeing Taliban fighter.

    A federal district judge ruled in Latif’s favor, concluding that, because of possible transcription and other errors, a government report of an interview with him was “not sufficiently reliable to support a finding by a preponderance of the evidence that Latif was recruited by an Al Qaeda member or trained and fought with the Taliban.” Overturning that finding, the D.C. Circuit ruled that the government’s evidence was entitled to “a presumption of regularity” and that lower court judges should require that a detainee’s “self-serving account must be credible – not just plausible.” In her opinion, Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown (a former California Supreme Court justice) approvingly cited dissents in the Boumediene case and referred snidely to its impracticality and “airy suppositions.” [..]

    Dissenting in the Latif case, Judge David Tatel described the decision as an “assault on Boumediene.” At the very least, the ruling called for a full-fledged review by the Supreme Court. Instead, the justices have abdicated their authority and devalued their own achievement.

    May 20 2012

    The NDAA Passes the House with Indefinite Detention Intact

     The National Defense Authorization Act passed the House  a vote of 299 – 110. It passed without the bipartisan amendment that was proposed by Reps. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.)  which would have prohibited indefinite detention without due process . It failed by a vote of 243 – 173.  House Republicans piled on the fear factor with accusations that the amendment and its supporters were “soft on terrorist”. Adam Serwer recounts in his article in Mother Jones how Smith and Amash were accused of having “[collaborated on a nefarious plot to undermine national security”:

    “Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) accused the lawmakers of wanting to “coddle terrorists,” while Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.) warned that under an amendment they’d introduced, “as soon as a member of Al Qaeda sets foot on US soil, they hear you have the right to remain silent.” National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor who has never heard of a same-sex marriage supporting, pro-financial regulation liberal who wasn’t secretly a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, wrote that their proposal was the result of “libertarian extremists” teaming up with liberals with an “obsession” with giving “more rights” to “mass murderers.” ”

    We now know that there are 231 paranoid delusion Republicans in the House that no longer believe in the rule of law or the Constitution of the United States:

    “As Smith pointed out during yesterday’s floor debate, the Fifth Amendment says no “person” shall be deprived of liberty without due process of law. It doesn’t say “citizen,” and the text of the Constitution uses both words enough that it’s clear the framers understood the difference. “Your beef is with James Madison,” Smith told Thornberry on Thursday. So keep in mind, when Republicans like Rooney say that Smith and Amash want to “coddle terrorists,” they’re not necessarily talking about some heavily armed Al Qaeda fighter in Kandahar. They’re potentially talking about you.”

    Besides passing without the Smith/Amash amendment, the $642 billion bill breaks a deficit-cutting deal with President Barack Obama and restricts his authority in an election-year challenge to the Democratic commander in chief. The bill also calls for construction of a missile defense site on the East Coast that the military opposes, and bars reductions in the nation’s nuclear arsenal. Against the request of the Chamber of Commerce and business community, strong GOP allies, the Republicans passed an amendment limiting funds for institutions or organizations established by the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea:

    “The chamber supports Senate ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty “because it would provide clear legal rights and protections to American businesses to transit, lay undersea cables, and take advantage of the vast natural resources in and under the oceans off the U.S. coasts and around the world,” executive vice president R. Bruce Josten said in a statement. He noted that the Defense Department supports the treaty.

    Tea party Republicans and other conservatives have expressed concerns about the treaty impinging on U.S. sovereignty.”

    President Obama has threatened to veto this bill, not for the lack of the restriction on indefinite detention but mainly because of restrictions on the implementation of the New START treaty; limits on reductions for the U.S.’s nuclear arsenal; and new restrictions on the transfer of Guantanamo detainees. Moreover, the White House objected to the overall size of the bill, which surpasses President Obama’s request by $3.7 billion and exceeds the Budget Control Act spending caps by $8 billion. I’ll believe that when it happens.

    May 17 2012

    NDAA Detention Provision Ruled Unconstitutional

    In New York City, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest ruled that the indefinite detention provision of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is unconstitutional in violation of the First and Fifth Amendments. The NDAA was signed into law by President Obama in late December after a veto threat over language that was eventually changed at his request.

    In a 68-page ruling blocking this statute, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest agreed that the statute failed to “pass constitutional muster” because its broad language could be used to quash political dissent.

        “There is a strong public interest in protecting rights guaranteed by the First Amendment,” Forrest wrote. “There is also a strong public interest in ensuring that due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment are protected by ensuring that ordinary citizens are able to understand the scope of conduct that could subject them to indefinite military detention.”

    This puts a whole new spin on today’s debate in the House floor Thursday of an amendment to the NDAA proposed by Representatives Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.), that would undo the detention provisions and bar military detention for any terror suspects captured on U.S. soil. The ruling was made in response to a law suit brought by former New York Times war correspondent and Pulitzer Prize winner, Chris Hedges and others who argued that the law would have a “chilling effect” on their work:

    Hedges was joined in the suit by linguist, author and dissident Noam Chomsky, Pentagon whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg and other high-profile activists, scholars and politicians.

    Hedges argued in his testimony that his work as a journalist would bring him into contact with terrorist organizations that would, given the scope of the law, qualify him for indefinite detention. The plaintiffs argued that the threat of detention alone would be an unconstitutional encroachment on their First Amendment rights to free expression and association, as well as a violation of the Fifth Amendment right to due process.

    As Glen Greenwald points out in his Salon article, the court rejected the argument by the government that the NDAA did nothing more than the 2001 AUMF already did and thus did not really expand the Government’s power of indefinite detention:

    The court cited three reasons why the NDAA clearly expands the Government’s detention power over the 2001 AUMF (all of which I previously cited when denouncing this bill).

    First, “by its terms, the AUMF is tied directly and only to those involved in the events of 9/11,” whereas the NDAA “has a non-specific definition of ‘covered person’ that reaches beyond those involved in the 9/11 attacks by its very terms.”

    Second, “the individuals or groups at issue in the AUMF are also more specific than those at issue in § 1021″ of the NDAA; that’s because the AUMF covered those “directly involved in the 9/11 attacks while those in § 1021 [of the NDAA] are specific groups and ‘associated forces’.” Moreover, “the Government has not provided a concrete, cognizable set of organizations or individuals that constitute ‘associated forces,’ lending further indefiniteness to § 1021.”

    Third, the AUMF is much more specific about how one is guilty of “supporting” the covered Terrorist groups, while the NDAA is incredibly broad and un-specific in that regard, thus leading the court to believe that even legitimate activities could subject a person to indefinite detention.

    The court also decisively rejected the argument that President Obama’s signing statement – expressing limits on how he intends to exercise the NDAA’s detention powers – solves any of these problems. That’s because, said the court, the signing statement “does not state that § 1021 of the NDAA will not be applied to otherwise-protected First Amendment speech nor does it give concrete definitions to the vague terms used in the statute.”

    (emphasis mine)

    A word of caution, we shouldn’t celebrate victory just yet. This is a preliminary injunction issued by one judge and the government will surely appeal it the Circuit Court.

    The debate in the House on the amendment to the NDAA introduced by House Armed Services ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) that would undo the detention provisions and bar military detention for any terror suspects captured on U.S. soil, will go on this afternoon. The amendment has strong bipartisan support in the House. We still need to take action and write our Representatives to vote for this amendment.

    Demand Progress: End Indefinite Detention!

    Jan 15 2012

    On the 10th Anniversary of GITMO, An Interview with Boumediene

    On Saturday MSNBC’s Chris Hayes aired an exclusive taped interview with former Guantanamo detainee Lakhdar Boumediene. Boumediene, , a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was arrested with five Algerian men in Bosnia in October, 2001 and charged with plotting to blow up the American embassy in Sarajevo. He was held for seven years at Guantanamo without charges or explanation. Boumediene was the lead plaintiff in Boumediene v. Bush, a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision that Guantanamo detainees have the right to file writs of habeas corpus in U.S. federal courts. He and the five other detainees were released from Guantanamo on May 15, 2009 after a US Federal Judge found that “the Bush administration relied on insufficient evidence to imprison them indefinitely as ‘enemy combatants.

    Through a translator, Boumediene explains life as a Guantanamo prisoner, about his torture, and his life after his release.

    Dec 29 2011

    Montanans Move To Recall Congressional Delegation

    Montana residents William Crain, an artist and Stewart Rhodes, an attorney, have launched a petition to recall the state’s congressional delegation, Sen. Max Baucus (D), Sen. Jonathan Tester (D) and Rep. Denny Reberg (R) over their vote for the National Defense Authorization Act that explicitly authorized the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects, including American citizens. Montana is one of nine states that has provisions to recall its elected federal officials. Under the Montana Recall Act all state officials in Montana are subject to recall for physical or mental lack of fitness, incompetence, violation of the oath of office, official misconduct, or conviction of a felony offense. The Montana petitions (there is one for each of the three), states the following “reason for recall”:

       1. “The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees all U.S citizens: “a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed…”

       2.  The National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 (NDAA 2011) permanently abolishes the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial, “for the duration of hostilities” in the War on Terror, which was defined by President George W. Bush as “task which does not end” to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001.

       3.  Those who voted Aye on December 15th, 2011, Bill of Rights Day, for NDAA 2011 have attempted to grant powers which cannot be granted, which violate both the spirit and the letter of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

       4.  The Montana Recall Act stipulates that officials including US senators can only be recalled for physical or mental lack of fitness, incompetence, violation of the oath of office, official misconduct, or conviction of a felony offense.

       5. Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act reads in substance: “Congress affirms that the authority of the President to detain …A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda…or associated forces…including any person who has…directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces…The disposition of a person…may include…Detention…without trial until the end of the hostilities…”

       6. “Substantial support” of an “associated force” may imply citizens engaged in innocuous, First Amendment activities.  Direct support of such hostilities in aid of enemy forces may be construed as free speech opposition to U.S. government policies, aid to civilians, or acts of civil disobedience.

       7. Section 1021 reads: “Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law.”  But “existing law” may be construed to refer to Padilla v. Rumsfeld in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the government’s claim of authority to hold Americans arrested on American soil indefinitely.

       8. Thus Senators Bacus, Tester, and Congressman Rehberg who voted Aye on December 15th, 2011, Bill of Rights Day, for NDAA 2011 have violated his Oath of Office to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution which guarantees all citizens the right to a jury trial “In all criminal prosecutions.”

    According to the press release, Mr. Rhodes stated:

    These politicians from both parties betrayed our trust, and violated the oath they took to defend the Constitution. It’s not about the left or right, it’s about our Bill of Rights. Without the Bill of Rights, there is no America. It is the Crown Jewel of our Constitution, and the high-water mark of Western Civilization. [..]

    Two time Medal of Honor winner Marine General Smedley Butler once said “There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights.” Time to fight.

    It’s not clear if the courts will allow states to recall their federal politicians. It hasn’t gotten very far in the past. In 1967, a recall campaign was waged against Sen Frank Church by Ron Rankin, a Republican county commissioner in Kootenai County in northern Idaho. The U.S. District Court for Idaho ruled that the state’s recall laws did not apply to U.S. senators and that such a recall would violate the U.S. Constitution. Since Idaho’s State Attorney General Alan Shephard decided to accept the court’s ruling, writing that “It must be pointed out that a United States senator is not a state officer but a federal officer whose position is created by Article I, Section I of the United States Constitution. There seems to be no provision for canvassing the votes of a recall election of a United States senator.”

    However, it can be argued that since there is no provision provided in the Constitution to recall members of congress, that right is preserved for the states under the 10th Amendment which states:  

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    Leaving Mr. Rhodes’ affiliation with The Oath Keepers, a group that has been criticized in the past for adopting extremist views and language, and for their supposed ties to white supremacist and militia groups, the petition drive does have some merits. If successful, it could lead to other states passing laws to provide for the recall of elected federal officers who think that the Constitution is quaint. Good luck to them and perhaps good riddance to Baucus, Tester and Reberg.

    Dec 15 2011

    Senate Will Consider The NDAA Today: Up Dated

    They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. ~ Benjamin Franklin

    Up Date: The Senate voted for final passage for the NDAA conference report (H.R. 1540). The vote was overwhelming: 86-to-13. It now goes to President Obama for his signature.

    President Obama has not yet signed the NDAA. It is not to late to tell him to veto this bill which will have a devastating effect on civil liberties and give unprecedented powers to the military and the Executive Branch. Send Obama a strong message sign the petition and send a letter:

    President Obama: Veto the National Defense Authorization Act!

    VETO the National Defense Authorization Act

    This House passed the revised National Defense Authorization Act 283 – 136 with 93 Democrats and 43 Republicans voting against the bill. The Senate is scheduled to take up the bill later today. It inevitably pass with an overwhelming majority and be sent to President Obama to sign. Since the White has stated that they are satisfied with the minor changes, Obama will sign the bill which, as Human Rights Watch said in a press release, “a historic tragedy for rights:

    (Washington, DC, December 14, 2011) – US President Barack Obama’s apparent decision to not veto a defense spending bill that codifies indefinite detention without trial into US law and expands the military’s role in holding terrorism suspects does enormous damage to the rule of law both in the US and abroad, Human Rights Watch said today. The Obama administration had threatened to veto the bill, the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), over detainee provisions, but on December 14, 2011, it issued a statement indicating the president would likely sign the legislation.

    “By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “In the past, Obama has lauded the importance of being on the right side of history, but today he is definitely on the wrong side.”

    The far-reaching detainee provisions would codify indefinite detention without trial into US law for the first time since the McCarthy era when Congress in 1950 overrode the veto of then-President Harry Truman and passed the Internal Security Act. The bill would also bar the transfer of detainees currently held at Guantanamo into the US for any reason, including for trial. In addition, it would extend restrictions, imposed last year, on the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo to home or third countries – even those cleared for release by the administration.

    (emphasis mine)

    Glenn Greenwald at Salon wrote in his article this morning that there are “several persistent myths that circulating about this bill and President Obama’s position on it that need to be clarified once and for all:

  • First, while the powers this bill enshrines are indeed radical and dangerous, most of them already exist. That’s because first the Bush administration and now the Obama administration have aggressively argued that the original 2001 AUMF already empowers them to imprison people without charges, use force against even U.S. citizens without due process (Anwar Awlaki), and target not only members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban (as the law states) but also anyone who “substantially supports” those groups and/or “associated forces” (whatever those terms mean). [..]

    With a couple of exceptions, this bill just “clarifies” – and codifies – the powers President Obama has already claimed, seized and exercised. [..]

    This is the reason why civil libertarians have been so harshly critical of this President. It’s the reason civil liberties groups have been saying things like this even when saying them was so unpopular: it’s because Obama has, for three years now, been defending and entrenching exactly the detention powers this law vests, but doing it through radical legal theories, warped interprations (sic) of the 2001 AUMF, continuities with the Bush/Cheney template, and devotion to Endless War and the civil liberties assults (sic) it entails.

  • Second, as I documented at length last week, Obama’s veto threat was never about substantive objections to the detention powers vested by this bill; put another way, he was never objecting to the bill on civil liberties grounds. Obama, as I documented last week and again below, is not an opponent of indefinite detention; he’s a vigorous proponent of it, as evidenced by his contiuous (sic), multi-faceted embrace of that policy.

    Obama’s objections to this bill had nothing to do with civil liberties, due process or the Constitution. It had everything to do with Executive power. The White House’s complaint was that Congress had no business tying the hands of the President when deciding who should go into military detention, who should be denied a trial, which agencies should interrogate suspects (the FBI or the CIA). Such decisions, insisted the White House (pdf), are for the President, not Congress, to make. In other words, his veto threat was not grounded in the premise that indefinite military detention is wrong; it was grounded in the premise that it should be the President who decides who goes into military detention and why, not Congress.

  • Third, the most persistent and propagandistic set of myths about President Obama on detention issues is that he tried to end indefinite detention by closing Guantanamo, but was blocked by Congress from doing so. It is true that Congress blocked the closing of Guantanamo, and again in this bill, Congress is imposing virtually insurmountable restrictions on the transfer of detainees out of that camp, including for detainees who have long ago been cleared for release (restrictions that Obama is now going to sign into law). But – and this is not a hard point to understand – while Obama intended to close Guantanamo, he always planned – long before Congress acted – to preserve Guantanamo’s core injustice: indefinite detention.

    I need to say that again: long before, and fully independent of, anything Congress did, President Obama made clear that he was going to preserve the indefinite detention system at Guantanamo even once he closed the camp. That’s what makes the apologias over Obama and GITMO so misleading: the controversy over Guantanamo was not that about its locale – that it was based in the Carribean (sic) Ocean – so that simply closing it and then  re-locating it to a different venue would address the problem. The controversy over Guantanamo was that it was a prison camp where people were put in cages indefinitely, for decades or life, without being charged with any crime. And that policy is one that President Obama whole-heartedly embraced from the start.

  • All the evidence is that debunks the myth that Obama is concerned about the Constitution are there in Glen’s article.

    Ironically today 220 years ago in 1791, Virginia became the last state to ratify the Bill of Rights. If the Senate passes this horrendous assault on our civil liberties, most of that historic document will be undermined. I don’t believe this that is what our Founding Fathers intended.

    Dec 08 2011

    You’re Free To Go When The War Ends

    Freedom’s Just another word for nothin’ left to lose. ~ Kris Kristofferson, “Me And Bobby Mcgee

    They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. ~ Benjamin Franklin

    We’re going to destroy it before they can get their hands on it. You can take away out lives but only we can take away out freedom. ~ Jon Stewart

    Arrested Development

    The Senate passes a bill that allows the government to detain an American citizen indefinitely without a trial.

    Arrested Development – One-Way Train to Gitmo

    Barack Obama will veto the 2012 Defense Appropriations bill because he objects to the Executive Branch not having totally infinite power of detention.