Uh, Which Civil Liberties Groups Want a ‘Prolonged Detention’ Executive Order?

By
Friday, June 26, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Huge news from Dafna Linzer and Peter Finn. The Obama administration fears that congressional prerogative is going to get in the way of closing Guantanamo Bay by January. So its answer is to cut Congress out of the decision-making and set up a system of “prolonged detention” for an estimated half of Guantanamo detainees it believes can be neither charged nor responsibly released. My initial read of the Linzer/Finn piece is that what the administration envisions is rather close to what Benjamin Wittes is proposing and which my colleague Daphne Eviatar critiqued. [See update below.] (Marcy Wheeler and Glenn Greenwald: I’d really like to hear your thoughts here.)

Many, many things are curious here, including how much process the unilaterally created detention system would allow. Finn and Linzer rightfully observe that the logic here is the logic of the Bush administration. There’s not much administration effort, judging from the piece, put into explaining why a detainee can’t be charged with a crime. And then there’s this absolutely bizarre claim:

“Civil liberties groups have encouraged the administration, that if a prolonged detention system were to be sought, to do it through executive order,” the official said. Such an order can be rescinded and would not block later efforts to write legislation, but civil liberties groups generally oppose long-term detention, arguing that detainees should either be prosecuted or released.

What? What civil liberties organization actually encouraged the administration to set up a system of “prolonged detention” — the less euphemistic term would be indefinite detention — in the first place; let alone urged the administration to do it without congressional approval?

Update: Zach Roth at TPM reports that the Center for Constitutional Rights certainly doesn’t approve of the idea.

Update 2: CCR representatives say that in a recent White House meeting, they conveyed to administration officials that “any prolonged detention scheme was unacceptable, no matter how it was dressed.”

Similar sentiments come from the ACLU, whose executive director, Anthony Romero, has released this statement:

This is not change – this is more of the same. If President Obama issues an executive order authorizing indefinite detention, he’ll be repeating the same mistakes of George Bush, and his policies will be destined to fail as were his predecessor’s. How justice is served in America should not be an open question in a country where we have a rule of law and a time-tested criminal justice system. Throwing people into prison without charge, conviction or providing them with a trial is about as un-American as you can get. While President Obama might be experiencing difficulty with Congress when it comes to implementing his decision to close Guantánamo, the answer is not to issue an executive order authorizing a system which is unconstitutional and counter to the most fundamental American values.

However, Kate Martin of the Center for National Security Policy thinks that contrary to my insta-read above, the executive order reported in Linzer and Finn’s piece doesn’t sound like the Wittes proposal. She doesn’t have any knowledge about the order aside from what she’s read, but says, “If the administration issues an executive order like the one [Linzer and Finn] describe, it’ll be a major victory.” That’s because Martin thinks that established law holds that the administration doesn’t require any additional legal authorization to hold anyone captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan without charge until the end of hostilities — that comes from the September 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force, as does dispensation for the 9/11 plotters — but would need to charge or release any detainee picked up outside either Afghanistan or Iraq. Martin thinks the reported executive order might be the only thing standing in the way of an even broader congressional effort of the sort seen in the war supplemental that Daphne critiqued yesterday. Martin has expressed her organization’s longstanding perspective on detainee matters to the administration’s detentions task force.

Update 3: The above reference to Wittes was pretty poorly phrased. I should have written that it seemed like the administration may embrace his substantive proposals for detention. As it reads, my sentence implies that Wittes embraces an executive order as a vehicle to change the rules about detention, when his proposal is obviously a piece of legislation.

You can follow TWI on Twitter and Facebook.

Follow Spencer Ackerman on Twitter


Comments

12 Comments

DavidRemes
Comment posted June 27, 2009 @ 1:23 am

Likely someone thinks legislation would be even worse.


White House Considers Executive Order on Indefinite Incarceration « Desperado’s Outpost
Pingback posted June 27, 2009 @ 9:54 am

[...] The ACLU released this statement: [...]


Is Obama Edging Towards Bush-Like Indefinite Detention? - Swampland – TIME.com
Pingback posted June 27, 2009 @ 10:17 am

[...] is not as far along as previously feared. Meanwhile, Spencer Ackerman at the Washington Independent points out that the devil for civil liberties advocates may be in the details, despite the fact that several [...]


DiAMOND
Comment posted June 27, 2009 @ 12:14 pm

I don't think you want to hear Glenn Greenwald's thoughts:

“There has now emerged a very clear — and very disturbing — pattern whereby Obama is willing to use legal mechanisms and recognize the authority of other branches only if he's assured that he'll get the outcome he wants. If he can't get what he wants from those processes, he'll just assert Bush-like unilateral powers to bypass those processes and do what he wants anyway. “

That's the kind of thing he has been writing for 4 months. Much like Froomkin, he'll be a widely revered bastion of honesty by the left once he gets sacked, but will struggle to find anyone willing to actually quote his serious criticisms of the Obama administration before then.


sgwhiteinfla
Comment posted June 27, 2009 @ 3:15 pm

Did you notice that they have changed the wording in the articles now? Especially in the WaPo

Curioser and curioser.


johnhkennedy
Comment posted June 27, 2009 @ 3:28 pm

Interesting how quiet our political class is about TORTURE, rendition and preventive dentition Now that Democrats may be doing IT.

Interesting that TORTURE is somehow OK when Democrats control IT.

Interesting how the same progressive groups that wanted the Iraq War stopped Immediately
and Torture ended Immediately
ARE NOW NEARLY TOTALLY SILENT
About Our Unnecessary Iraq War
And TORTURE (when Democrats control IT).

Prosecuting those who Torture
is our “line in the sand”
for Congressional Accountability.

If the Obama Administration and your Congressman cannot be moved to
Enforce our Federal Anti-Torture Laws by prosecuting those who Tortured
it will be clear to all that getting our elected officials to act in our best interests is hopeless.

SIGN THE PETITION
To Prosecute Them For Torture

http://ANGRYVOTERS.ORG

Over 250,000 have signed
Join them and call yourself a Patriot

.


Obama considering an executive order allowing indefinite detention. | Think Progress
Pingback posted June 27, 2009 @ 7:38 pm

[...] said that if Obama “issues an chief visit same the digit [the pedagogue Post news describes], it’ll be a field victory.” However, Glenn Greenwald, Digby, the ACLU, and the Center for Constitutional Rights ease [...]


Obama considering an executive order allowing indefinite detention. | Pure Politics
Pingback posted June 28, 2009 @ 9:00 pm

[...] that if Obama “issues an executive order like the one [the Washington Post story describes], it’ll be a major victory.” However, Glenn Greenwald, Digby, the ACLU, and the Center for Constitutional Rights still [...]


Get your News » Sarah Palin Battles The Internet (And The Rest Of Your Scritti Politti)
Pingback posted June 29, 2009 @ 9:34 pm

[...] Men Form Civil Liberties Group, Provide Obama With Political Cover: Via Spencer Ackerman, inquiring minds want to know: Who are these civil liberties groups who are said to have [...]


Sarah Palin Battles The Internet (And The Rest Of Your Scritti Politti) | i-Technews
Pingback posted June 30, 2009 @ 1:26 am

[...] Men Form Civil Liberties Group, Provide Obama With Political Cover: Via sociologist Ackerman, investigatory minds poverty to know: Who are these subject liberties groups who are said to hit [...]


Guest
Comment posted June 30, 2009 @ 1:21 pm

To answer your title question, CAP seems pretty happy with it.


Sarah Palin Battles The Internet (And The Rest Of Your Scritti Politti) | BlackNewsTribune.com
Pingback posted October 4, 2010 @ 8:00 pm

[...] Men Form Civil Liberties Group, Provide Obama With Political Cover: Via Spencer Ackerman, inquiring minds want to know: Who are these civil liberties groups who are said to have [...]


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.