Once again, President Obama is doing a flim flam: The
I am deeply troubled by the
Indefinite detention is a violation of human rights and must be abandoned. Not only does it violate the rights of detainees, it also violates the
rights of victims of terror attacks to have justice done. Detainees must either be charged with a crime and fairly tried in US federal courts, or be
Obama administration readies indefinite detention order for
By Peter Finn and Anne E. Kornblut
Tuesday, December 21, 2010; 7:30 PM
The Obama administration is preparing an executive order that would formalize indefinite detention without trial for some detainees at the
The administration has long signaled that the use of prolonged detention, preferably at a facility in the
"We have a plan to close
However, almost every part of the administration's plan to close
Officials worked intensively on the executive order over the past several weeks, but a senior White House official said it had been in the works for more than a year. If Congress blocks the administration's ability to put detainees on trial or transfer them out of
"I would argue that you still have to go ahead because you can't simply have people confined to a life sentence without any review and then fight another day with Congress," the administration official said. "One of things we're mindful of is [that] you can't have a review conducted by the same people, in the same process, who made the original decision to detain. You have to have something that is different and is more adversarial, which the Bush administration never had."
Under the system established by the previous administration,
"There isn't a single serious commentator on the subject who hasn't thought something like this wasn't necessary as part of a rule-of-law approach," said the senior White House official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Provisions in the defense authorization bill, which has passed the House and is before the Senate, would effectively ban the transfer of any detainee to the
The defense bill, if it passes the Senate, would effectively force the administration to conduct only military commissions and at
"If it passes, it is the final, decisive blow to the president's plan," said Tom Malinowski, head of the
In a speech at the National Archives in May 2009, President Obama said his administration would use criminal trials, reformed military commissions, transfers to other countries, releases and continued detention in pursuit of its commitment to close
An administration task force ultimately determined that at least 48 detainees were too dangerous to release but could not be put on trial. Officials have said the evidence against these detainees has been tainted by torture or cannot be used in court because it is classified or would not meet legal standards.
"When the review panel puts someone in the category of long-term detention, the 48 people, what happens then?" the administration official said. "Are they there for the rest of their lives? What's the review mechanism? How impartial is it? Do they have a chance to contest it? All of that stuff has to be answered. And we have been working on an executive order laying out these elements."
Those designated for prosecution but who are not charged could also have their cases reviewed under the proposed system in the executive order, the White House official said.
Some civil liberties groups oppose any form of indefinite detention, even with a built-in mechanism to challenge incarceration.
"Indefinite detention without charge or trial is wrong, whether it comes from Congress or the president's pen," said Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's
The executive order, however, could be an effort to preempt legislation supported by some Republicans, which would create a system of indefinite detention not only for some
Malinowski said there is a "big difference" between using an executive order, which can be rescinded, to handle a select group of detainees that Obama inherited, and legislating a general indefinite detention scheme.
Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.