Preventive Detention Is a Non-Starter

Pres. Obama’s preventive detention idea, so far, is not going over too well, reports Glenn Greenwald:

The backlash against President Obama’s extraordinary proposal for indefinite “preventive detention” — already widespread in the immediate aftermath of his speech — continues to grow.  On Friday, Sen. Russ Feingold sent a letter (.pdf) to Obama which, while praising some aspects of his speech, vowed to hold hearings on his detention proposal, and in the letter, Feingold rather emphatically highlighted the radical and dangerous aspects of Obama’s approach[.]
On Twitter on Friday, Rachel Maddow pointed to the civil liberties questionnaire from Charlie Savage which Obama answered during the Democratic primary and asked rhetorically: “This is the same guy now proposing ‘prolonged detention’ without trial?”
It’s a bit difficult to claim that what Obama is proposing is nothing new, nothing out of the ordinary, given that his own White House Counsel just last February told The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer that it would be “hard to imagine Barack Obama as the first President of the United States to introduce a preventive-detention law.” As acknowledged by two of the leading proponents of preventive detention — Bush OLC lawyer Jack Goldsmith and Obama’s Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal — the real purpose of preventive detention (contrary to what some are arguing) is not to classify and treat all detainees as “prisoners of war” (since some of them, by Obama’s own description, will get trials in real courts and others in military commissions), but rather, to give “the government an overwhelming incentive to use trials only when it is certain to win convictions and long sentences, and to place the rest in whatever detention system it creates” (h/t EJ). I defy anyone to re-read that description of what this “preventive detention” system does and then claim that what is being described is a “justice system” in any meaningful sense of that term.

Digby has more.

3 Responses to “Preventive Detention Is a Non-Starter”

  1. Chief says:

    A lot of people have said it, so I will not be the first. POTUS’s prime (oe first) job is not to keep the American people safe. POTUS’s job is to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, so help me God.”

    You cannot make a law that allows preventive detention that will pass constitutional muster.

  2. Jack Jodell says:

    Kathy, I agree with Chief. I see no way a law can be passed to legally authorize indefinite preventive detention, especially as it was originated under Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld and is attempting to be continued under Obama. It is inconceivable that a basic tenet of western law since 1215, that of habeas corpus, could be so arbitrarily dismissed by the Bush and Obama administrations. What have we become? In this regard, we are playing by the same rules as the Stalinists, Nazis, Maoists, and even Taliban we have condemned all along. In fact, if this travesty to our Constitution is allowed to stand, we will have granted Al Qaeda and the Taliban their fondest wish: an end to western-style democracy. They will have won without having fired a second shot on our soil. We will no longer be able to serve as a beacon of liberty to the world, nor will we any longer be able to serve as any kind of moral example of unyielding freedom. This is a very slippery slope Obama is on. We cannot afford to join him on it..

  3. Booogie-Mann says:

    It’s not a slippery slope, we’ve already fallen on our asses by granting Constitutional Rights and Habeas Corpus to Terrorists. It’s just plain stupid, we can thank Progressives for all their grovelling and hand wringing.

    Comparing a few hundred detainees to the millions killed by Stalin, Mao, and Nazi Germany is ridiculous. Like comparing a small turd to a … well it’s just not comparable.


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