Is The White House Manufacturing Support for Indefinite Detention?

In its article today on President Obama's consideration of an executive order authorizing indefinite detention of terror suspects without charges or trial, The Washington Post quotes an unnamed Adminsitration official as saying:

"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 Such an order could be rescinded and would not block later efforts to write legislation, but civil liberties groups generally oppose long-term detention, arguing that detainees should be prosecuted or released.

The civil liberties groups I'm familiar with have all issued unequivocal opposition to indefinite detention. [More...]

In the New York Times today:

“Detention without charge is a regime we don’t want to see,” said Sarah E. Mendelson, a scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who led a study of options for closing Guantánamo. “Having an executive order rather than Congressional legislation is even worse. Then, it’s a continuation of the kind of super power within the executive branch that you saw with the Bush administration.”

...Several human rights advocates met with Mr. Obama and his top advisers before his National Archives speech and warned him that indefinite detention had many of the same flaws as holding prisoners at Guantánamo. “We told him to make sure that the cure doesn’t perpetuate the disease,” said Elisa Massimino, executive director of Human Rights First.

The ACLU today (received by e-mail):

“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.

....Indefinite detention without charge was unconstitutional under the Bush administration and remains so under the Obama administration, whether authorized by a law or through executive decree. We must put an end to the incorrect and ineffective assumption that the only way to keep us safe is to violate our most basic principles.”
(my emphasis)

This is a not a new position the ACLU is taking with Obama on the issue.

I don't believe that any reputable civil liberties group is advising Obama on the best way to implement indefinite detention -- or expressed a preference for executive order over congressional action. Either is abhorrent and unacceptable.

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  • Display: Sort:
    meet the new boss (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by jeffinalabama on Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 04:24:46 PM EST
    same as the old boss...


    In other words... (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by otherlisa on Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 04:31:23 PM EST
    "We had to shred the Constitution in order to save it."

    The press is not doing its job (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by Democratic Cat on Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 05:00:06 PM EST
    Why are they printing the assertions of a WH insider about what unnamed people at unnamed civil liberties groups are allegedly telling them?  I haven't read the Post article yet (busy day), but does it say whether the reporter even attempted to verify what the WH claimed?

    It worked for Bush, didn't it? (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Fabian on Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 07:40:02 PM EST
    Access to the White House often meant playing Jeff Gannon.  Gannon printed press releases verbatim and called himself a journalist. He almost got away with it, too.  Certainly the traditional media didn't make a fuss about him.

    There are so many examples of spouting what "sources in the administration" without attempting to verify any of it during the Bush terms that it would take a very long post to document all of it.  Obviously the press is very bipartisan in this since they seem happy to continue this tradition with Obama.


    Maybe Obama can name the civil liberties groups (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 01:28:08 AM EST
    who are giving him all this counter-intuitive advice. Problem is, who will ask the question?

    Note that the White House spokesman who denies the existence of an executive order is identified by name as White House spokesman Ben LaBolt.

    How curious then to have an anonymous spokesperson who is actually quoted as saying civil liberties groups have "encouraged" the Obama Administration to bring about indefinite detention via executive order.

    Now that's audacity on a stick!


    As soon as I read that these (5.00 / 4) (#4)
    by Anne on Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 05:15:37 PM EST
    so-called "civil liberties groups" were advocating the implementation of such a policy via executive order, and not out in the open, I knew something was fishy; I can't think of a single group that is committed to civil liberty that would advocate behind-closed-doors, stroke-of-the-pen methods, especially for a policy whose goal is to deny people their freedom on a preventive basis.

    This is just utter BS, and I hope we find out who is behind it - and that it kills the whole idea of such a policy.

    Hmmm (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 05:27:21 PM EST
    "Manufacturing support"....now there's a euphemism for lying that I hadn't heard.

    Used in a sentence:

    "I am manufacturing support for my age."

    "I'm manufacturing support to the officer regarding how fast I was going."

    I think in some quarters, (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Anne on Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 05:42:31 PM EST
    say in the context of a judicial proceeding, "manufacturing support" might also be called "suborning perjury."  

    In this case, however, it would not surprise me to find out that if someone actually said this, it was on behlaf of a group that defines "civil liberties" in a way that does not mesh with how most people would define it.  You know, kind of like those GOP/conservative groups that say they're about the environment when they're really about businesses being able to trash it, or about health care reform when they're really about protecting the insurance companies - you know the kind.

    Despicable either way.


    The likes of the Heritage Foundation (5.00 / 4) (#6)
    by inclusiveheart on Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 05:39:44 PM EST
    and the American Enterprise Institute must be self-identifying as "civil liberties groups" these days.

    this kind of propaganda... (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Dadler on Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 05:54:03 PM EST
    ...is pure right-wing playbook stuff.  Same kind of mindset that labeled anyone who opposed the Bush wars as pro-terrorist.  It's bald faced lies meant to silence and enable.

    Disgusting.  Obama is proving himself to be quite the sociopath when he "needs" to be.

    Hey Dadler! (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 06:17:01 PM EST
    Long time no talk. Hope you are well, also your brother....

    I was just curious as to how it feels to get what you wanted......



    i was never an obama partisan (5.00 / 4) (#11)
    by Dadler on Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 06:35:41 PM EST
    never bought into the savior hype.  pols are pols, as BTD always points out.

    shuffle up and deal, my man.




    Peace back to u! (2.00 / 0) (#19)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 08:22:19 PM EST
    My patience is running out with this Administratio (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Doc Rock on Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 06:34:54 PM EST

    I don't believe it either "J" (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 06:43:56 PM EST

    Me neither (5.00 / 2) (#24)
    by ruffian on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 06:27:55 AM EST
    Another trial balloon. That's how this WH rolls.

    And if thats the way of it (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 08:03:31 AM EST
    left wing bloggers had better wake up and end this insanity of voiceless balloon watching !!!!  Gah, I can't believe some of them right now.  The ones that adored Obama so and dogged everybody else, the Clinton haters.  And the stuff Obama's pulling and they sit there in silence, I guess because they can't deal with their own now exposed failings as crystal ball pundits high on hopium.  Oh, and that horrible Armando person who would be rude sometimes calling people out for not dealing with reality :)  If the things at stake weren't so vital it could be funny.

    'civil liberties' groups (5.00 / 3) (#26)
    by ruffian on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 09:42:51 AM EST
    does not necessarily mean liberal groups, as inclusiveheart pointed out above.

    And as I like to point out, as maybe more people will see as the kool-aid wears off, Obama is not a liberal - never has been. He is barely a Democrat. I don't think even he would argue with that assessment. He'd consider it a compliment.


    I would be shocked! (5.00 / 5) (#13)
    by jbindc on Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 07:28:30 PM EST
    They've never manufactured things to support their man or their position....oh wait....I forgot about the crowds of 200,000 in Germany that was really like 20,000.....and the crowds in Oregon to see a free concert, but were credited all to see Obama.....and that this administration would be transparent.....

    Oh dear.

    Well explained (5.00 / 3) (#16)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 08:09:53 PM EST
    by Maddow.  Thank goodness others post these videos or I'd never know that some of those talking heads are finally starting to get honest with what they are reporting.

    Thanks for posting this, Inspector- (none / 0) (#27)
    by jawbone on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 10:49:27 PM EST
    I lost access to MSNBC when my cable company put some channels on digital transmission, and I keep forgetting to take care of getting one --and I'm ticked at the eventual $7+/month fee as well), so I've missed Maddow's transition.

    How are the OFB blogs taking this?

    This was a very strong statement.


    there were 60-100K (none / 0) (#23)
    by of1000Kings on Sun Jun 28, 2009 at 04:29:47 AM EST
    in St louis when I was there...no concerts or anything...just Obama...

    the Lou could be the exception, though...


    Still wondering how Prof. Tribe is feeling tonight (5.00 / 5) (#17)
    by Mitch Guthman on Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 08:15:03 PM EST
    So, it would appear that our famous former professor of Constitutional law believes that  an inherent presidential power to detain basically anybody, anytime, anywhere, for any reason and without any evidence or judicial review is perfectly consistent with the principles upon which our nation was founded.  

    The money quote from Tribe's campaign speech in support of Obama:  " `The next president won't be in a position to make this a liberal court, but he can prevent it from becoming reactionary and moving to unreviewable executive power,' Tribe said, adding that Obama shares his views on Constitutional law."(TPM: Tribe campaigns for Obama)

    In the same interview, Prof. Tribe also said:" ...if Obama  [is] elected, he would appoint justices "who share his view that the Constitution is a living document that has to be interpreted in light of evolving values of decency." (Concord Monitor, Nov. 14, 2007)

    Well, who knew that the power of permanent arrest, long considered the hallmark of a dictatorial regime, is really consistent with evolving values of decency?

    Is it time for another episode of  "I wonder how Laurence Tribe is feeling tonight"?   Unless, of course, Prof. Tribe agrees that the Constitution permits such powers of summary justice?  Maybe some enterprising reporter will ask him?

    The Cossacks still work for the Czar. (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Mitch Guthman on Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 09:56:52 PM EST

    I must respectfully disagree.  George W. Bush is no longer the president.   There are no "residual Bush administration holdovers" involved in making policy in the Obama White House.   According to the article, these were Obama's people inside the White House, floating his trial balloon, about what his administration is thinking about doing.  As such, they represent his administration's views and values.  

    As I've said before, Obama is the president now.  Had he wished to do so, he could easily have  totally changed things from the Bush years simply by saying the word.  You need to accept that he just doesn't see our Constitution the way you and I do.  He probably sees it the way John Yoo does but he's always been smart enough to dress it up with much better speechifying.

    As was frequently said during the Bush administration: "The Cossacks work for the Czar".  New Czar, different Cossacks, same principle.  The architect of our present descent into barbarism and authoritarian madness is President Obama, not George Bush or "holdovers" from his administration.  

    Holding on to that Hope, eh? (none / 0) (#18)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 08:18:14 PM EST
    I still have faith in Barack Obama, or at least I'm really trying to.

    It seems to me that sentiment is one that falls into the "any D is better than an R" category. Hold on, hold on....I'm positive he'll do something that proves the Democratic Party values aren't a thing of the past.

    This is the country my children and grandchildren have many years left to live in. I'm concerned for their futures. The Hope is hard to hold onto, but the Change seems inevitable. I fear he is leading us to the end Bush was hoping to achieve.

    Obama collusion with the Senate (none / 0) (#20)
    by NealB on Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 09:32:43 PM EST
    to commit high crimes. Shameful. Unforgivable. Damn them all to hell. Obama. The Senate. What a pliable freshman Senator Obama turned out to be.