22 May 2009

Let There Be No Kings

So, one of the proposals in Barack Obama's speech is a proposal for permanent preventive detention on the say so of the President:
"But even when this process is complete, there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases because evidence may be tainted, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States. Examples of that threat include people who've received extensive explosives training at al Qaeda training camps, or commanded Taliban troops in battle, or expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden, or otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans. These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States.

Let me repeat: I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people. Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States, and those that we capture -- like other prisoners of war -- must be prevented from attacking us again. Having said that, we must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded. They can't be based simply on what I or the executive branch decide alone. That's why my administration has begun to reshape the standards that apply to ensure that they are in line with the rule of law. We must have clear, defensible, and lawful standards for those who fall into this category. 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.

I know that creating such a system poses unique challenges. And other countries have grappled with this question; now, so must we. But I want to be very clear that our goal is to construct a legitimate legal framework for the remaining Guantanamo detainees that cannot be transferred. Our goal is not to avoid a legitimate legal framework. In our constitutional system, prolonged detention should not be the decision of any one man. If and when we determine that the United States must hold individuals to keep them from carrying out an act of war, we will do so within a system that involves judicial and congressional oversight. And so, going forward, my administration will work with Congress to develop an appropriate legal regime so that our efforts are consistent with our values and our Constitution."
This is contemptible.

If they are prisoners of war, then treat them as such, and grant them the rights therein, including the Geneva conventions, which among other things, prevent their transfer to 3rd countries (Bagram and the CIA gulags).

If they are not, then try them by jury.

This was also the reaction of civil libertarians who had an off the record meeting with him at the White House.

I'm sure that Barack Obama has read the Declaration of Independence, and amongst the grievances given by the founding fathers were, "depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury," and "transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences," which sound a lot like what he wants to do.

His argument is that unlike Bush, he can be trusted.

This is a lie. Any agency of government who wishes the grant or extraordinary power on this basis is inherently untrustworthy, and the same goes double for his successor.

Sorry, but, "Because I'm so awesome," is not a reason.

His speech frightened me more than Dick Cheney's, because Dick Cheney no longer has the power to do what he wants.


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