Sunday, May 24, 2009

Prolonged Detention: Stunning!

'Prolonged Detention' is more than a catch phrase from the Obama Administration.

Glenn Greenwald has an in depth and interesting overview of the, Facts and myths about Obama's preventive detention proposal.
White House Counsel Greg Craig told The New Yorker's Jane Mayer in February:

"It’s possible but hard to imagine Barack Obama as the first President of the United States to introduce a preventive-detention law," Craig said. "Our presumption is that there is no need to create a whole new system. Our system is very capable."

The New Yorker's Amy Davidson compares Obama's detention proposal to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

Hilzoy, of The Washington Monthly, writes:
"If we don't have enough evidence to charge someone with a crime, we don't have enough evidence to hold them. Period" and "the power to detain people without filing criminal charges against them is a dictatorial power."
Salon's Joan Walsh quotes the Center for Constitutional Rights' Vincent Warren as saying:
"They’re creating, essentially, an American Gulag."
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Will Bunch says of Obama's proposal:
"What he's proposing is against one of this country's core principles" and "this is why people need to keep the pressure on Obama -- even those inclined to view his presidency favorably."

The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder -- who is as close to the Obama White House as any journalist around -- makes an important point about Obama that I really wish more of his supporters would appreciate:

[Obama] was blunt [in his meeting with civil libertiarians]; the [military commissions] are a fait accompli, so the civil libertarians can either help Congress and the White House figure out the best way to protect the rights of the accused within the framework of that decision, or they can remain on the outside, as agitators. That's not meant to be pejorative; whereas the White House does not give a scintilla of attention to its right-wing critics, it does read, and will read, everything Glenn Greenwald writes. Obama, according to an administration official, finds this outside pressure healthy and useful.
Rachel Maddow finds this proposal from Obama not only contradictory but stunning. WATCH:

During the Bush/Cheney Administration, on many occasions I used the following phrase.
"If you aren't completely appalled then you haven't been paying attention."
I am now saddened to use it during the Obama Administration. But I do believe that Glenn Greenwald is correct when he states:

It's not just the right, but the duty, of citizens to pressure and criticize political leaders when they adopt policies that one finds objectionable or destructive. Criticism of this sort is a vital check on political leaders -- a key way to impose accountability -- and Obama himself has said as much many times before.

It has nothing to do with personalities or allegiances. It doesn't matter if one "likes" or "trusts" Obama or thinks he's a good or bad person. That's all irrelevant. The only thing that matters is whether one thinks that the actions he's undertaking are helpful or harmful. If they're harmful, one should criticize them. Where, as here, they're very harmful and dangerous, one should criticize them loudly. Obama himself, according to Ambinder, "finds this outside pressure healthy and useful." And it is. It's not only healthy and useful but absolutely vital.

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