S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Taking advantage of an opening

President Obama continues to have opportunities to come down on the correct side of the big Constitutional questions.

Three federal judges appointed by former President George W. Bush opposed President Obama on his policies regarding detainees suspected of terrorism. Virtually unchanged from the Bush administration, claims of broad executive authority were dismissed by the judges, who said that "the executive branch was overstepping its authority and claiming more powers than the law allowed," to quote a recent article. The decisions 1) ruled that some prisoners captured outside of Afghanistan and held at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan were entitled to challenge their detention; 2) refused to dismiss the Jose Padilla lawsuit against John Yoo; and 3) dismissed claims that Syrian detainee al-Janko could be held at Guantanamo, even when the government knew he had been tortured by al-Qaeda. The administration is still fighting the Bagram and Padilla rulings.

Still in contention in court is the ACLU lawsuit to get the CIA Inspector General's report to be made public. It now looks as if it will not be released until the deadline of August 31, according to emptywheel, who has mixed feelings about such a delay.

Legally, one of the President's biggest dilemmas, he is now admitting, is whether to go ahead with imprisoning the most dangerous terror suspects indefinitely without trial. A mid-June poll showed that an overwhelming majority opposes preventive detention without charges. President Obama told the AP's Jennifer Loven in an interview last Thursday that he is uneasy about his own indefinite detention proposal. To quote:

. . . Obama said he has strong reservations about detaining people without bringing them to trial — a legal quagmire that dogged former President George W. Bush.

"It gives me huge pause," Obama said . . . "And that's why we're going to proceed very carefully on this front. And it may turn out that after looking at all the dimensions of this that I don't feel comfortable with the proposals that surface on how to deal with this issue."

. . ."How we deal with those situations is going to be one of the biggest challenges of my administration," Obama said.

If he goes ahead with indefinite detentions, Obama said he would ask Congress to approve it by law — and not do it himself through an executive order, as some administration officials have privately suggested.

It is still not too late for President Obama and the Department of Justice to get on the right side in these questions. June 26 was the anniversary of the Convention Against Torture and it is time for the administration to do everything it can to keep what happened in the Bush administration from ever happening again. And it is essential that those who broke the law be held accountable, so that we can prevent torture from happening again. The ACLU has been bringing unmet FOIA requests to court since 2003. Emptywheel at Firedoglake posted a powerfully ironic piece on that day titled "Ending Torture: Wrong Agency Mr. President." I commend it to your reading. Marcy Wheeler concludes, "George Bush's promises to prosecute all acts of torture were horribly empty words. But Obama's solution to look outward, to the Department of State rather than the Department of Justice, is even emptier."

[Post date - July 6, 2009]

See also Behind the Links, for further info on this subject.

Blogs: My general purpose/southwest focus blog is at Southwest Progressive. My creative website is at Making Good Mondays. And Carol Gee - Online Universe is the all-in-one home page for all my websites.

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