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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

 
In Your Name

by digby

Bob Herbert wrote about a boy the US has imprisoned for years and is now insisting must be held indefinitely because he confessed. Under torture naturally:

On Dec. 25, 2003, Jawad tried to kill himself by repeatedly banging his head against a wall of his cell.

There is no credible evidence against Jawad, and his torture-induced confession has rightly been ruled inadmissible by a military judge. But the Obama administration does not feel that he has suffered enough. Not only have administration lawyers opposed defense efforts to secure Jawad’s freedom, but they are using, as the primary basis for their opposition, the fruits of the confession that was obtained through torture and has already been deemed inadmissible — without merit, of no value.


Even the hardbitten prosecutor assigned to his case couldn't take it and he's now working to free this kid.

It's not like there is consensus on these cases. There are many, many people besides the ACLU and the horrible hippie bloggers who are appalled at what's going on --- many of them are in the military and have been directly exposed to this torture regime. The administration choosing to perpetuate these horrors under these circumstances is all the more profoundly disturbing.

And by the way, the trial balloon over the week-end about Obama issuing an executive order on preventive detention looks more and more to me like some kind of crude head fake. I guess we silly civil libertarians are supposed to be all impressed and relieved when the administration actually does this:

[T]he Brookings Institution released a paper by Ben Wittes and Colleen A. Peppard giving the possible outlines of a preventive detention statute. Although I didn't post about it, I initially assumed that the administration's move would be along the lines of what Wittes is proposing.

That isn't the case. I interviewed Wittes at length this weekend for a feature I'm doing for the print edition, and I had a chance to look over the whole proposal. Wittes told me personally that he thought Obama re-asserting--as Bush did--the inherent authority to detain terrorists suspects indefinitely would be "a disaster."

The Wittes proposal is not likely to make any civil libertarians happy. But unlike the administration's move--if the Post story is accurate--it does propose some meaningful constraints on the indefinite detention power, which up till now we've seen being used arbitrarily except where the courts intervene. The Wittes proposal would set up a FISA-like system, where terrorist suspects could be detained for 14 days without court oversight, but their cases would be subject to judicial review every six months afterward to determine if the suspect should remain detained, according to a "three pronged test." The individual would have to be: "(1) an agent of a foreign power, if (2) that power is one against which Congress has authorized the use of force, and if (3) the actions of the covered individual in his capacity as an agent of the foreign power pose a danger both to any person and to the interests of the United States." The president would also have to submit a list of groups to Congress every few months that it wants covered by the AUMF, and whose members can be subject to preventive detention. The evidence threshold for detaining someone would be lower than that used in criminal trials. There's more to the proposal, but I won't try to explain it all in one blog post.


I think we are all supposed to think this is a pragmatic compromise, especially after the "close call" where Obama was just going to reassert the Bush policy. See, it's not that bad. Relax.

And the sad thing is that in a few years people like us will be fighting like hell to preserve this latest national security state impingement on the constitution when another president says it isn't enough to keep the babies safe, just as we did with that legislative abortion called FISA.

We're still just a bunch of frogs in slowly heating water.


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