Again, usual caveats about me not being a lawyer, etc., ad nauseum, but I hate the establishment of “indefinite detention”:
President Obama’s advisers have been drafting an executive order that would set up a system for periodically reviewing the cases of Guantánamo prisoners whom courts have approved for detention without trial, officials said.
Administration officials are apparently planning to meet this week to debate the details of the draft order, which has not yet gone to the president for approval. In broad strokes, it would establish something like a parole board to evaluate whether each detainee poses a continued threat, or whether he can be safely transferred to another country.
One administration official said that such an order has long been under consideration, noting that Mr. Obama had described the need for such a process in a May 2009 speech when he laid out a plan in which some detainees would likely continue to be held without ever going to trial because they were too dangerous to release but too difficult to prosecute.
“We must have clear, defensible and lawful standards for those who fall in this category,” Mr. Obama said in that speech, which he delivered at the National Archives. “We must have fair procedures so that we don’t make mistakes. We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified.”
The existence of the draft executive order was first reported on the Web sites of The Washington Post and ProPublica on Tuesday evening. Several administration officials confirmed its outlines and offered additional details.***
Civil liberties and human rights groups — many of whom dislike any policy that involves holding prisoners without trial — reacted with ambivalence to the report that the Obama team has been working on an executive order to establish formal reviews.
Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, said such an order could provide additional safeguards for those prisoners who are already being held in as wartime detainees, but worried that it could be used to entrench the idea of detention without trial.
“My sense and my hope is that it would be limited to the detainees whom Obama inherited from the Bush administration, rather than serving as a permanent regime for the detention of anyone the government may decide is dangerous in the future,” he said.
The news of the draft order comes as Congress is considering a bill that would bar the transfer of any Guantánamo detainee to the United States — even for the purpose of prosecution.
Great. God forbid we try people. I really do not understand why we can’t just try them like anyone else, and if we have tortured them or broken international law making convictions impossible, or if we don’t have the evidence, we let them go and live with it.