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Obama DOJ Still Mulling Due Process for Detainees

Attorney General Eric Holder today faced a slew of questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee about just what sort of legal process the Obama administration plans to provide for detainees that the president deems “too dangerous” to release, yet who for whatever reason cannot be tried in a U.S. court or military commission. Asked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) what process the administration would use to decide whether “enemy combatants” are being correctly designated as such and lawfully detained, Holder responded that “we have not decided that, in terms of how often we want that review to occur, who should be responsible for that determination and that review.”

Holder also wouldn’t speculate as to how many people — if any — may fall into that category, though he reiterated that President Obama has maintained that he has that right to detain such “dangerous” people.

“We’re going to have ideas” about how to decide who to detain indefinitely and what sort of legal process they’re due, “but we want to interact with members of the committee so it has the support of Congress,” Holder said.

Obama’s plan for “preventive” indefinite detention for some detainees “who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people,” as he described in in a May 21 speech at the National Archives, remains a point of contention in Congress and among many legal experts and civil liberties advocates.

This morning’s hearings made clear that the controversy over the use of “preventive detention” to indefinitely imprison detainees in the “war on terror” that the administration believes cannot be charged is far from over.

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