A Law Unto Himself: Obama Promises To Hold Some Detainees Without Trial

225px-official_portrait_of_barack_obamaPresident Barack Obama today defended his decision to close the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and promptly raised more serious concerns for civil libertarians. In his speech, Obama announced that the country’s “moral authority” demanded closure but then said that his lawyers were working new policies to hold certain detainees indefinitely without trial.

Obama broke the detainees into five categories. He is to be commended for deciding to send some detainees to federal court for a true and legitimate trial. However, he still refused to take the rule of law to its full conclusion. With one category, he isolated to “detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted, yet who pose a clear danger to the American people.” He promised “[w]e are not going to release anyone if it would endanger our national security, nor will we release detainees within the United States who endanger the American people.” Of course, this would mean holding people in violation of domestic and international law — precisely what George Bush did. It is part of the Administration’s effort to appear principled by doing an unprincipled thing. The reason that we cannot try these individuals is because they would win. The solution, according to both Bush and Obama, is not to give them a trial.

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67 thoughts on “A Law Unto Himself: Obama Promises To Hold Some Detainees Without Trial

  1. Obama reminds me of the man running headlong along a high wire hoping he can get past the chasm before he topples. What he may not realize is that other end of the wire is anchored to nothing. Avoiding the rule of law under the guise of principle, as JT mentions, leaves a tremendous hole in the body politic. No high wire can span that void. There is a reason that the law is the anchor of civilization.

  2. Mr. Obama is intelligent enough to know that he is abjectly self-contradictory with his position and why would he continue at such destructive self-denials.

    The man is very good at raising the ire of people who put him in office by violating the pledges for which he was so outspoken. He rarely stated that he would try to do something, he always stated that he *will* do this and that if we trusted him. The man is downright infuriating.

    This is just one more reason why we should never start unnecessary wars; the darn pesky law gets real annoying and a thorn in your side long after the blood and brains dry on the battlefield.

  3. As I keep saying, it’s still a huge mess regardless of whether these detainees were picked up and held under Bush ‘rightly’ so and especially if wrongly.

    And before we end up handing over multi-millions of dollars in settlement checks, they certainly require supervised rehabilitation. It can’t be a wise idea to simply release any of them at this stage, and most unfortunately for some, I’m fairly sure.


    … “I want to be honest: this is the toughest issue we will face,” Obama said.

    He said that the his administration would “exhaust every avenue that we have” to prosecute detainees but there would still be some left “who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes” yet remain a threat.

    Among these, he said, are prisoners who have expressed allegiance to Osama bin Laden “or otherwise made it clear they want to kill Americans.”

    “So going forward, my administration will work with Congress to develop an appropriate legal regime” to handle such detainees “so that our efforts are consistent with our values and our Constitution.”

    Obama criticized what he said was an effort to politicize the issue.

    “I know that the politics in Congress will be difficult. These issues are fodder for 30-second commercials and direct mail pieces that are designed to frighten. I get it. But if we continue to make decisions from within a climate of fear, we will make more mistakes,” he said…”

  4. I cannot understand why Cheney is in Washington advocating against closure of Gitmo. Oh yeah, cover myself. Not as good as Johnson, when it is alleged that the only reason that greedy B donated his ranch to the Dept of Interior is to make sure he nor his family was ever prosecuted for the demise of a number of immigrants working on the ranch before he ascended to his rightful throne.

    Now if I could only die like Happy and Lyndon, I’d be happy to.

  5. With this meandering, get ready for a doozie of a SCOTUS nominee. It wouldn’t surprise me if Monica Goodling was nominated.

  6. Although I am extremely frustrated over the mess at Guantanamo, there are two things to remember. First, this is another example of a Bush catastrophe dropped in Pres. Obama’s lap. Why were we transporting all of these people to Guantanamo in the first place if we didn’t have a clue what we were going to do with them when they got there? Did Bush and Cheney think we would simply keep them in custody until they died from old age, disease or “enhanced interrogation techniques”? It is all too reminiscent of our “plans” for the rebuilding of Iraq following the deposition of Saddam Hussein. Bush apologists, of course, are now lining up to criticize the president for not having a quick fix for another of their mistakes, much as they have done for his failure to turn around the economy during the first three months of his term.

    My second gripe relates to the absolute lack of strong Democratic leadership in the House and Senate. Once again Sen. Reid and Rep. Pelosi are permitting Republicans to frame the debate. The fear mongering incessantly flowing from the lips of Dick Cheney and his congressional allies should be recognized for what it is, and ignored. When was the last time someone escaped from a maximum security federal prison? And those who are exonerated should be treated as any other person who wins an acquittal. It would be easy to say that the Democrats in Congress lack the courage of their convictions, but their verbal fumbling and flailing over the last few days suggests that they have neither courage nor convictions.

  7. Things must evolve or they die.

    Bush and Co. went to great lengths in order to manage what was perpetrated on this country by intentionally straying outside Constitutional processes.

    So why would anyone think it won’t require a similar degree of effort to return to where we, otherwise, would have been.

    Things don’t evolve backward…

  8. Bad Humor, but do you know how many people would say “I’d give left left arm if I could go to Cuba.”

    Bad Humor ok, its not me, I am telling the voices to knock it off. I am only kidding. But the more than unfolds I am just amazed. And to think that when GeoI was in office, we had to wait for Albert Gore before we had the internet remember? So, how much caca do yo think GeoI would have gotten if we had the internet then. Wow. The things we take for granted.

  9. Bob, Esq:

    Your knowledge of politicians and their equivocations and downright cowardice is encyclopedic.

  10. “The reason that we cannot try these individuals is because they would win. The solution, according to both Bush and Obama, is not to give them a trial.”


    “They’re bad. We know they are bad. We’re scared if they get loose. We’ll keep them away from us.”

    This is the argument of children–not very bright or very brave children at that.

  11. …’And those who are exonerated should be treated as any other person who wins an acquittal…”

    They should be treated even better than just ‘as any other person who wins an acquittal’.

    Unfortunately, if they weren’t angry before I suspect they definitely are now, and without much regard to whether we choose to fully recognize and appreciate it!

  12. Every time I come to this blog I become more and more pleased that none of you are in charge of running our country.

  13. And your point is? Other than you’re capable of both assumptions of dubious quality and a complete misunderstanding of the term “We the People”?

  14. For someone who supposedly taught constitutional law, Obama seems unclear on what a right is.

    One way or another, he has surrendered any claim to being an agent of ‘change’ with respect to the Bush Atrocity (that is, the presidency of George W. Bush from start to finish).

  15. Bush 2.0: Obama Administration Opposes Valerie Plame Appeal

    No accountability, were playing by BushCo rules.

  16. It was an interesting speech, but it did leave me wondering why Obama said some of the detainees could not be tried. Could the real reason why some can’t be tried is because they were tortured and any or all of the evidence uncovered was obtained through torture and would not be admissable and they would be acquitted? As Professor Turley states, “The reason that we cannot try these individuals is because they would win.” Or could some of them be in such poor physical and mental health that a trial would highlight the results of torture for the world to see? If you are going to uphold the rule of law as Pres. Obama stated, there are no degrees of the rule of law. You either have it for all or you have fallen short.

  17. raff,

    “As Professor Turley states, ‘The reason that we cannot try these individuals is because they would win.’ Or could some of them be in such poor physical and mental health that a trial would highlight the results of torture for the world to see?”

    Both would be my guess. If we were shown the suffering and permanent scars some of these people at Gitmo have been subjected to? I suspect there would be immediate violence against politicians. Pure unfiltered rage at what was done to people in our name by those in charge. I think those in Washington and Obama are acting out of fear – fear of We the People will do if the scope of the Bush Co. crimes are made fully public. I’m thinking the Nazis didn’t want the camps made public either for the same reason albeit their crimes were on a much more horrific scale. And when those crimes were made public? Nuremberg, imprisonments and executions were the results.

  18. Indefinite detention is simply morally and legally unacceptable. Notice the Catch-22 nature of this policy. We will torture you and thus we have tainted the evidence. Because we tortured you and created tainted evidence we will be unable to try you and you will remain incarcerated the rest of your life.

    We should not tolerate our govt. engaging in this behavior. If we do not put the breaks on it now, what it to prevent this as an excellent technique for detaining anyone forever?

    We owe these people trials. If we lose because we tainted the evidence, then we lose. At least this way we keep the rule of law. Further, we regain credibility in the eyes of the world. I don’t think the way to go is complicated or difficult. It is completely clear. We need a president who will step up to the plate for justice, even if that costs him an election.

    Ab-Zabiyah’s lawyer was on Here and Now today. He made a very good case that his client was innocent. How do we really know who is the worst of the worst? Does anyone in Gitmo really fit that description? How would we know this without trials? We can’t just believe our govt. when they tell us things like this. These are people’s lives. These allegations must be proven. Anyone can allege anything without proof.

    In the meantime a confessed war criminal isn’t being detained or even investigated. The contrast between alleged crimes and crimes that have openly been admitted to cannot be any more clear.

    Obama knows the law and refuses to abide by it. There’s no backing away from this any longer. It is dangerous to accept his right to do so. That’s what a dictator does. We must pressure him and this Congress and do everything in our power to restore democracy and rule of law to this nation.

  19. I know that it is useless to point this out, but Congress does not have to allow Obama to get away with this, just as it did not have to allow Bush to get away with it. Congress has allowed this nation to become a dictatorship. I am not being hyperbolic; what else is a nation whose leader can imprison whomever he wants for life? Obama seems a more benign dictator than Bush (although if I were an innocent person being held without trial I might think otherwise), but he is still a dictator, and the next President will be too, unless Congress does something about it. Fat chance that it will.

  20. I’m little offended he made his speech at the National Achieves, in front of the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution is a document that should not be politicized or used to legitimize unconstitutional behavior or policy. Furthermore, it is not a document open to personal judgment or interpretation. Inappropriate choice of venue.

  21. Mike Appleton:

    “My second gripe relates to the absolute lack of strong Democratic leadership in the House and Senate.”

    Wasn’t it John Dean who said leading Democrats is tantamount to herding cats?

  22. Mespo,

    When you consider that the constitution is structured to fend off its first and foremost enemy, i.e. tyranny, how can you afford to overlook Ch 18 of the 2nd Treatise?

  23. Buddha,

    It was originally penned as “We the States.”

    It was re-drafted to make it more warm and fuzzy.

  24. “There was only one road back to L.A. US Interstate 15, just a flat-out high speed burn through Baker and Barstow and Berdoo. Then on to the Hollywood Freeway straight into frantic oblivion: safety, obscurity. Just another freak in the Freak Kingdom. We’d gone in search of the American Dream. It had been a lame fu#$ around, a waste of time. There was no point in looking back. Fu#$ no, not today thank you kindly. My heart was filled with joy. I felt like a monster reincarnation of Horatio Alger: a man on the move, and just sick enough to be totally confident.”

    — H.S. Thompson

  25. Bob,

    Since we’re talking about the abuses of Bush Co., I was thinking this might be some more wisdom from the late Dr. Thompson.

    “You can turn your back on a person, but never turn your back on a drug, especially when its waving a razor sharp hunting knife in your eye.”

    In this case, the drug is the perception of power without cost or accountability in violation of the Constitution. Thankfully it’s not ether as we all know there is nothing more helpless and irresponsible than a man in the depths of an ether binge. The Dr. agreed on that as well.

    “Should I tell him about the bats? No, the poor bastard will find out soon enough.”

  26. achilles,

    This clown & doofus Obama is turning out to be a real embaressment to America.


    Glad you feel that way, now tell Us why. I can say

    This clown & doofus achilles is turning out to be a real embaressment to America.

    Now why? support your statement. Ok Trolley Tramp.

  27. Obama’s speech was dishonest came when he assured us that detaining terrorists at Guantanamo Bay has undermined our security:

    Guantanamo became a symbol that helped Al Qaida recruit terrorists to its cause. Indeed, the existence of Guantanamo, likely, created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained. So the record is clear. Rather than keeping us safer, the president at Guantanamo has weakened American national security.

    The “record is clear”? As the slob Keith Oblermann would say, WTF?

    The record is that there were no successful attacks after 9/11. What “record” can Obama be talking about? And what evidence is there that Guantanamo “created…terrorists around the world”?

    It is absurd to think that anyone will join an organization that chops off people’s heads and gouges out their eyes with spoons because he is outraged that at Guantanamo Bay–what? A female interrogator sat on a detainee’s lap?

    One thing we know about extremist organizations is that it is success, not failure, that brings adherents to their banners. After 9/11, al Qaeda has been dogged by failure, defeat and the loss of most of its key operatives through death or capture.

    Obama made up his purportedly empirical claim that Guantanamo Bay made the U.S. less secure. It is another example of his conviction that he can slip any sort of howler past the American people and I am F-g sick of it.

  28. achilles:

    “The record is that there were no successful attacks after 9/11.”


    Likewise there were no other dirigible accidents on American soil after the Hindenburg. Wouldn’t it have been nice if there weren’t any at all and if all involved in protecting us on 9/11/2001 had bothered to read the memo entitled “Bin Laden determined to attack inside the U.S.,” conveyed to National Security Advisor (insert snicker here) Condi Rice in August 2001. I bet it would have gotten more play with her if they had pasted a 50% off coupon for Manolo Blahnik shoes.

    achilles, your heel is calling.

  29. I listened to Dick Cheney’s speech today and I found myself ashamed of having voted for Barack Obama. That was an effective speech and hit you right in the gut; we either win against these murdering terrorists OR WE LOSE. There is no middle ground.

    My eldest son home visiting looked at me and asked “which of these two (Obama vs. Cheney) do you think would have/could have won WW2 because that is the man you want leading us. I realized for sure Barack Obama would have been the guy looking for middle ground with Hitler or Hirohito.

  30. gordon:

    “I listened to Dick Cheney’s speech today and I found myself ashamed of having voted for Barack Obama.”


    Like you I regretted my vote for Rutherford B. Hayes. You voted for Obama–lol.

  31. Mr. Mespo (what a stupid handle):

    You recite the bin laden PDB memo that said: “Bin Laden determined to attack inside the U.S” and then directly attack Presient Bush & C. Rice for not comprehending the significance of this dire warning.

    1) what day was the attack suppose to be?

    2) where city were they planning on attacking us at?

    3) what was the target?

    4) what weapon were we being attacked with?

    5) how many attackers were there going to be?

    I would venture to guess that even you know what a moron you are for spouting the “bin laden determined to attack inside the US” BS.

  32. PS for Mespo:

    Tomorrow Barack Obama picks up his moring PDB and reads the following words:

    Bin Laden determined to AGAIN attack inside the U.S

    What plan of action do you recommend idiot boy???????????????

    You know idiot boy, it could very well happen that those are the words in his PDB……..and if they were, you would be whining about the CIA instead of doing something about protecting America.

  33. achilles,

    Heel, boy, heel. Or is it sig heil der furher? What do you call your leader? Der Cheney? We call ours our inner moral compass. I am sure it is easy to confuse morass and morals. They have almost all of the same letters. Unless you are ghettofied, then mor ass has a different meaning, don’t you see. Oh thats right, you have not been found, so you are still blind. Got it.

    Really, what do you call your leader? Der Cheney?

  34. achilles,

    One last things, I am an attorney and I did a bombing case. My clients occurred August 28, 01. The FBI, CIA, Alcohol Beverage Commission, MSP and all of the local agencies showed up. They knew just like Pearl Harbor that it was coming. You fool. Sig Heil. We are attacking Iran on 2 fronts now. Oil, Oil Money and Bankers, that is what it is all about.

  35. Achilles,
    For a troll you a pretty mean spirited. You are forgetting one of the major aspects about George the Second’s handling, or non-handling of the PDB in August, 2001. George didn’t do anything after receiving the briefing at his ranch. He didn’t leave his vacation and kept “clearing brush”. The attack on 9/11 was on George the Second’s watch and for some reason your response is that we weren’t attacked after 9/11. What about 9/11? By the way, why aren’t you at the new Star Trek opening tonight?

  36. Gordon and achilles:
    You two will surrender your civil rights to feel safer, but it’s a catastrophic error. Tough for either of you to see through the lies and deceptions of BushCo. The evidence is out, connect the dots. Got liberty?

  37. acilles:

    “You recite the bin laden PDB memo that said: “Bin Laden determined to attack inside the U.S” and then directly attack Presient Bush & C. Rice for not comprehending the significance of this dire warning.

    1) what day was the attack suppose to be?

    2) where city were they planning on attacking us at?

    3) what was the target?

    4) what weapon were we being attacked with?

    5) how many attackers were there going to be?”


    Well lets take a look at the original source and see if we can respond to your talking points? We have some limitation since only a small portion of the PDB of August 6, 2001 was declassified and released but maybe we can see how a mere novice like me might react to the information:

    “Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US

    Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Bin Ladin since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US. Bin Ladin implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and “bring the fighting to America.”

    After US missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, Bin Ladin told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a [–] service.

    An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told an [–] service at the same time that Bin Ladin was planning to exploit the operative’s access to the US to mount a terrorist strike.

    The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of Bin Ladin’s first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the US. Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los Angeles International Airport himself, but that Bin Ladin lieutenant Abu Zubaydah encouraged him and helped facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaydah was planning his own US attack.

    Ressam says Bin Ladin was aware of the Los Angeles operation.

    Although Bin Ladin has not succeeded, his attacks against the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks. Bin Ladin associates surveilled our Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as early as 1993, and some members of the Nairobi cell planning the bombings were arrested and deported in 1997.

    Al-Qa’ida members–including some who are US citizens–have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks. Two al-Qua’ da members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our embassies in East Africa were US citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s.

    A clandestine source said in 1998 that a Bin Ladin cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks.

    We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a [–] service in 1998 saying that Bin Ladin wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of “Blind Shaykh” ‘Umar ‘Abd al-Rahman and other US-held extremists.

    Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

    The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the US that it considers Bin Ladin-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our Embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group of Bin Ladin supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives.

    Late in the month, a foreign service reported that Abu Zubaydah was considering mounting terrorist attacks in the United States, after postponing possible operations in Europe. No targets, timing, or method of attack were provided.”

    My untrained eye would have surmised that attacks were imminent say in the next 90 days or so given the increase in activities consistent with terrorist attacks or hijackings and like information being received prior to attacks on our embassies. I would secure buildings in LA, DC and NY. I would increase security at airports to enhance my chances of apprehending any would be hijackers. I would place the federal air marshal service on alert, and notify the airlines to report suspicious activity especially cash sales of one way tickets. I would get more info on the 70 or so ongoing investigations including what level of activity and where the activity was most prevalent. I would alert the Air Guard to have more planes in the air in these locations, and suggest more surveillance of federal and landmark buildings in the most likely target areas. I would notify the public of the heightened state of alert and seek the public’s help in identifying suspicious activity in or around airports, and ask that it be reported to the local FBI field office. Since terrorist attacks are usually the work of less than 20 members I would surmise this pattern would hold true and alert law enforcement of this probability. I would be particularly sensitive to the possibility of hijacking cross country flights since they carry the most fuel, and would carefully screen these passengers for weapons. I would ask the FAA to invoke emergency rule making to insure that no weapons of any sort were permitted on cross country trips to lessen the likelihood of this type of plane being used as a weapon. Publicity trumps secret plots every time.

    The one thing I wouldn’t have done is nothing. How’s that, oh ostrich?

  38. From my ‘Greatest Hits’…


    Olbermann: “All of this, Jonathan, has been likened to the swing of a pendulum, that this is Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, harkening back to their days as rookies in the Ford administration, watching the fallout of presidential powers being cut back after the abuses of Richard Nixon. If that’s true, if it is a pendulum, does the pendulum swing back? Can it? Will it?”

    Turley: “Well, unfortunately, civil liberties don’t swing back like other issues. Civil liberties is a very precious commodity. When you lose them, it tends to run out of your hand like sand, and it’s hard to get it back. And that’s one of the dangers here, that presidents, when they acquire power, rarely return it to the people. And so we have to be very concerned. This country is changing in a very significant way, and it’s something that citizens have to think about because if there is a war on terror, and I believe that we must fight terror, obviously, but we’re trying to defend that Constitution. And we’re really at a point where the President is arguing about his own presidential power in ways that are the antithesis of that Constitution and the values that it contains.”

    Olbermann: “Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley. As always, sir, thanks for your time. Thanks for joining us.”

    Turley: “Thanks, Keith.”

  39. Hey achilles—–Maybe Bush couldnt have known the details of the impending attack that would happen 36 days after the August 6 PDB, but HE COULD HAVE FUCKING BEEN IN WASHINGTON ATTEMPTING TO FIND OUT INSTEAD OF HIS RANCH FOR NEARLY THE ENTIRE MONTH OF AUGUST!! Did you know that Bush took about THREE YEARS of vacation in his 8 years as Prez?? I mean THREE literal years, well over 900 days of vacation! NO PRESIDENT SHOULD TAKE ANY VACATION WHILE TROOPS ARE DYING IN A WAR! How many vacation days did Lincoln an Roosevelt take?? You are an ASS achilles! Bush is LEGALLY guilty of murder too according to legal genius Vincent Bugliosi.

  40. Of course, why would Bush jump into action on August 6, 2001, when he didnt do JACK SHIT EITHER ON THE VERY DAY OF 9-11 even AFTER knowing planes were smashing into the towers?? Unless, achilles, you call listening to children read “The Pet Goat” as jumping into action!

    Dont give me that fucking “but he didnt want to frighten the children” BULLSHIT either. I have one question for you achilles:

    “When Bush took a question from a boy at a school in December 2001 about ‘how Bush felt that day’ [9/11], “Bush said these very EXACT words: [“Well, Jordan, you’re not going to believe what state I was in when I heard about the terrorist attack. I was in Florida. And my chief of staff, Andy Card — actually I was in a classroom talking about a reading program that works. And I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower — the TV was obviously on, and I use to fly myself, and I said, “There’s one terrible pilot.” And I said, “It must have been a horrible accident.” But I was whisked off there — I didn’t have much time to think about it..”]

    How did Bush SEE the FIRST PLANE hit the tower when the footage of FIRST PLANE hitting the WTC was not shown until the NEXT DAY? He wasnt talking about the SECOND plane, because in the quote above he says, “It must have been an ACCIDENT”. Everyone knows when the second plane hit it was NOT an accident, so it had to be the FIRST PLANE he was referring to. HOW did he see it hit the tower ON 9/11 when it wasnt shown until the NEXT day after news stations had retrieved the Naudet brothers’ footage of it?

    Got an answer for that, genius???

  41. A few more questions achilles.

    How did Bush know that he was safe in the school on 9/11?

    How did he know that a plane was not going to crash into the school?

    It was announced on Sept 7 that Bush was going to be at the school in Sarasota, and 2 of the hijackers were IN Sarasota at a Holiday Inn on September 9 just miles from where Bush was staying. Are you suggesting that the hijackers were SO intelligent as to outsmart our defense and intelligence agencies in order to hijack 4 planes at once and to control NORAD taking 85 minutes to respond, but they were too DUMB to know that the PRESIDENT of the country they hated was just MILES from them and they couldnt find out he was speaking at the school on 9/11 even though that info was public knowledge???????

    So, Bush didnt want to “frighten” the children by quietly getting up and saying “I’m sorry [to the teacher] but I have to take care of something”, but he put the lives of the children, faculty and his own staff in danger by staying INSIDE the school when god knows how many planes were being hijacked at the time or where they were?

    Do you believe in the easter bunny too, achilles??

  42. Achilles,

    An example of how torture has made us less safe is provided in the book by Mike Alexander (I forget the title). In working as an interrogator in Iraq he found that the best technique was to build a rapport with the prisoners and treat them humanely. In doing this he found that most of the prisoners (especially foreign nationals who came to Iraq to fight the US) had joined Al-Qaieda in Iraq after hearing of brutality by US forces. Upon finding out that this was not the case, they became cooperative. Thus the thousands of Americans (unless you don’t consider our soldiers Americans…) killed since Saddam’s regime was toppled died primarily as a result of torture. Furthermore, it has been pretty well established (by the testimony of interrogators, military officials, and other authorities) that the only thing that torture produces is false confessions and unreliable information. Indeed, the SERE program from which the torture techniques were reverse engineered were developed to prepare our troops for possible interrogations by people like the North Koreans looking to extract false confessions from our POWs (and personally, I don’t think that the North Koreans are the moral example we should try to emulate…). The bottom line is that since torture is immoral AND ineffective we received absolutely no benefit for the stain on our national honor and even if no Americans had died because of this policy it would still be illegal, immoral, and reprehensible.

  43. I find myself very disheartened by the dueling speeches of President Obama and Dick the war criminal. Not by the President’s preventative detention policy (although he’s just flat out wrong on this one) or by the war criminal’s despicable lies in service of his personal CYA tour, but by what the speeches and media coverage of them says about the position of the American people. In a poll on MSNBC.com only 54% of people agreed with President Obama and 43% agreed with Dick that torture can yield useful intelligence. In my opinion, the only way to get the president to do the right thing on this issue is to change public opinion to the point where real polling (and let’s face it, a web poll on MSNBC is going to have a liberal bias) shows 2/3 of the people against torture. People need to be convinced that torture is both ineffective and wrong (and that either of these objections is a sufficient reason not to do it). President Obama has shown a willingness to listen to arguments he disagrees with and change his mind when he is convinced that he is wrong so we need to speak up and convince him that he is wrong here.

  44. Obama, Biden, Bush, Cheney, Congress and co-conspirators are War Criminals and guilty of many other crimes. They should be IN prison but ‘We The People’ can’t find a judge or prosecutor who will do his duty under the Constitution and arrest them. The government officials are cowards and traitors.

  45. Turns out the shepherd who was suppose to gather the flock is a wolf in lambs clothing and the wool was pulled over your eyes, not mine of course. The Saturday Night skit where GW says a vote for McCain is a vote for me should of had Obama instead. Simple division has turned into multiplication of dissent. I cant wait to hear what the teleprompter has to say as he continues his We Apologize Tour. His D-day speech should be quite interesting. I’m sure he will say in Dresden the U.S. committed war crimes, we are sorry and there will be no investigations then go to Nagasaki and Hiroshima and tell the Japanese, Like 9-11 the United States knew that Pearl Harbour would be bombed but we turned a blind eye so we could have an excuse to test out our nuclear arsenal just like we needed an excuse to invade Iraq. We are sorry that we gathered up all the Japanese enemy combatants, suspended thier civil liberties and put them in camps even though over 60% were U.S. citizens. Can you imagine the speech to the muslims.

  46. […] I’m serious: Obama broke the detainees into five categories. … With one category, he isolated to “detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted, yet who pose a clear danger to the American people.” He promised “[w]e are not going to release anyone if it would endanger our national security, nor will we release detainees within the United States who endanger the American people.” Of course, this would mean holding people in violation of domestic and international law — precisely what George Bush did. It is part of the Administration’s effort to appear principled by doing an unprincipled thing. The reason that we cannot try these individuals is because they would win. The solution, according to both Bush and Obama, is not to give them a trial. […]

  47. The speech by Mr. Cheney does not require any detailed analysis. It was simply another version of the same faulty argument that has been repeated ad nauseam by defenders of the Bush administration. All of the rhetoric boils down to a single post hoc, ergo propter hoc assertion: we instituted torture and this country suffered no attacks thereafter. I submit that those to whom the fallacy of that argument is not readily apparent are incapable of rational analysis on any topic. Therefore, responding to them is a useless exercise.

    With regard to the president’s speech, I was disappointed over his comments on the issue of indefinite detention. That policy is a constitutional and moral abomination. I remain hopeful, however, that Pres. Obama recognizes that, but is refraining from saying anything more until a solution has been formalized. I have to remind myself that fear cannot always be overcome with facts, and it is apparent that Republicans are still quite capable of stirring up fear whenever they deem it politically useful.

  48. Buddha,

    Raoul Duke: Circus Circus is what the whole hep world would be doing Saturday nights if the Nazis had won the war. This was the Sixth Reich.

  49. “They’re bad. We know they are bad. We’re scared if they get loose. We’ll keep them away from us.”

    This is the argument of children–not very bright or very brave children at that.

    I trust you are not referring to Obama as he is hardly a child, much less cowardly or brainless.

    He’s less off-course now than he was coming in, given what he’s inherited from the ‘Railroad’ Company and in spite of the recent incantations from the 3-D ghost camp of Dick n’Dubya n’Donald.

    With all the presidential power he’s so obnoxiously packin’, this should all be as easy as Ginger Snap Sweet Potato Pie or thrice clickin’ heels, despite incantations of Dubya Dick n’ Donald in 3-D.

    Alas, a conscience…

  50. let us suppose that there is a group of persons that are known to be terrorists but ultimately cannot be proven legally beyond a reasonable doubt. in our own society here, we have numerous examples of people that are known criminal yet the justice system has been unable to bring them to justice till the proper time comes, if it does.

    john gotti comes to mind, how time and time again he was able to evade justice though the entire world knew of his deeds yet the law demanded proof. surely, i ask you all – what would be your solution if we hold persons of a similar sort.

    that is individuals known to be facilitators, financiers, commanders of al quaida yet we lack any hard evidence to prove our case before the law. now iam not here constructing some ridiculous hypothetical scenario but rather admitting the fact that the president stated that much. for i too share in the prevailing view that the rule of law must guide all actions. here, the bush administration failed us and the current president was elected with a view on erected such errors. yet we must not ignore this most salient reality – we might be holding people that we dont have hard evidence against yet we know of thier work.

    gotti – well the state of new york flipped his consiglieri and thus we exchanged his testimony for a lighter sentence. however, no one would suggest that al quaida is interested in doing any such thing for the government – thus we return to our original conundrum. what to do with such person. for we might all sing the praises of the rule of law – yet i for one, would gladly hold a few of these people indefinately even without charges

    perhaps i lack true liberal virtues, some might charge, yet i see no proper recourse. professor turley will surely speak of how the rule of law much always be held supreme and to that end i agree yet i ask of him to construct a proper scenario that would ensure safety while honoring the rule of law.

    what would you do with a terrorists, now some foot soldier but a known terrorist that is being held in guantanamo – yet the state lacks hard evidence to prove its case. would you propose that he be tried nonetheless and live by the not guilty decision or even a dismissal. would you feel good about yourself with the knowledge that atleast the rule of law triumphed even though you know this man is surely returning to bin laden’s arms. what must obama do – someone present a legal recourse.

  51. It’s a cost of maintaining a constitutional democracy that sometimes dangerous people in custody who cannot be tried or convicted are and must be freed. But in a conventional war between the U.S. and another nation, it’s unquestioned that a country may detain an enemy combatant indefinitely–until exchanged or until the end of hostilities–usually a clearly defined event–irrespective of whether the individual is believed to have committed a crime. To me it follows that the constitutionality of the President’s preventive detention “Category 5″ should be judged by first addressing the question whether and to what extent the conflict between the international jihadist movement and our country partakes of the war characteristics accepted as justifying indefinite detention. Then, the differences in the nature of the conflicts need to be recognized and considered in guaranteeing the constitutional safeguards needed, including those that may not apply in the context of conventional wars between nations. This I believe is what the President is doing. I see this as consistent with applicable constitutional principles, and I agree with it.

  52. Here is an example of how the appearance of lawfulness is being used to detain men who should have been released due to innocence as determined by the supreme court. While we’re on the subject of empathy, why don’t we act both lawfully and with empathy here?:

    “Nothing gives lie to the idea that there is any semblance of due process for prisoners held at the US prison camp at Guantanamo more than the case of the 17 Uighurs, Chinese Muslims, who remain imprisoned despite being cleared for release and ordered freed by a federal judge.”


  53. There was a “suicide”? at Gitmo today. Here is the story found at Glenn Greenwald. Whooliebacon made a point about torture being locked up indefinitely. I believe this. Here is the story.

    “U.S. military officials say a Yemeni detainee at Guantanamo Bay has died of an “apparent suicide.”

    At the moment, the U.S. military is calling it an “apparent suicide” pending an autopsy. Though Salih is either the 4th or 5th Gitmo prisoner to kill himself, numerous others have continuously tried, including this year, using every means from hunger strikes to hanging…Although the Obama DOD earlier this year self-servingly announced that Guantanamo is in full compliance with the Geneva Conventions, there is ample evidence that suggests otherwise.

    Putting people in cages for life with no charges — thousands of miles from their homes — is inherently torturous. While Salih acknowledged fighting for the Taliban against the Northern Alliance, there is no evidence that he ever engaged in or planned to engage in terrorist acts or acts of violence of any kind against the U.S. Apparently, though, he’s one of the Worst of the Worst we keep hearing about — Too Dangerous To Release even if we can’t charge him with any crime.

    Along those lines, Sen. Russ Feingold will hold a hearing a week from today, at 10:00 a.m., on Obama’s proposal for indefinite “preventive detention,” entitled “The Legal, Moral, and National Security Consequences of ‘Prolonged Detention'” (Feingold’s letter excoriating Obama’s proposal is here). Other Democrats, such as Rep. Jerry Nadler, have already announced they will oppose Obama’s detention policy. Closing Guantanamo obviously does nothing to solve these problems if the same system of indefinite detention without charges is simply transported to a new location. As today’s NYT article put it: “detainees lawyers, including those representing other Yemeni detainees, have been saying that many prisoners are desperate and that many are suicidal because they see no end to their detention.” It’s the system of indefinite detention with no trials, not the locale of the cage, that is so oppressive and destructive.”

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