I've been holding my breath, hoping that the moves the Obama administration has made to justify detention without trial as policy, á la Guantànamo, have been a head fake intended to create the political opportunity to do the opposite. I'm turning blue, here: it's looking more and more like the Obama administration is entirely serious about giving the US government institutional mechanisms for locking people up without a trial. Glenn Greenwald has the latest.
A task force appointed by President Obama to issue recommendations on how to close Guantanamo announced yesterday it will miss its deadline and instead needs a six-month extension, potentially jeopardizing Obama's promise to close Guantanamo within a year. The announcement was made in a briefing given by four leading Obama officials, where the condition of the briefing was that none of the officials could be named (why not?) and all media outlets agreed to this condition (why?).
Though the Task Force's final recommendations were delayed, it did release an interim report (.pdf) which — true to Obama's prior pledges — envisions an optional, three-tiered “system of justice” for imprisoning accused Terrorists, to be determined by the Obama administration in each case: (1) real trials in real courts for some; (2) military commissions for others; and (3) indefinite detention with no charges for the rest. This memo is the first step towards institutionalizing both a new scheme of preventive detention and Obama's version of military commissions.
From this interim report, it's more apparent than ever that the central excuse made by Obama defenders to justify preventive detention and military commissions — there are dangerous Terrorists who cannot be released but also cannot be tried because Bush obtained the evidence against them via torture — is an absolute myth.
I am very displeased to be using my “the horror” label on a post about the President of the United States again.