Tuesday 26 May 2009

The scary speech made by the wrong guy

After thinking about reinstating the military tribunals, not leaving it to the Attorney General Eric Holder to decide whether or not to prosecute CIA operatives who used torture, and not getting the money for closing down Guantanamo from his very own Democrats in the Senate, President Obama gives a scary Chenyan speech on national security.
"We're going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country. 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."

NY Times: Text: Obama’s Speech on National Security, May 21, 2009
"Prolonged detention" sure sounds nicer than "preventive detention", but it's clear that those two things actually mean the same procedure. People who have not committed a crime but who are trained to inflict harm and seem to have the intention to do so (but who will judge those two things?) will be held until, well, the intention is gone? More than that, by saying that this can not only be executive action, he is actually considering shaping laws to make something legal that sounds like it contradicts the basic principles of law.

NY Times: Obama Is Said to Consider Preventive Detention Plan , May 20, 2009

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