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Of all of the policy differences I had with the still-unindicted Bush-Cheney regime, it was the "war on terror" extremities which were the most unAmerican and criminal. Extraordinary rendition.....kidnapping someone in one country and transporting that person to another country to be tortured. Torture......sleep deprivation, heat and cold deprivation, hanging from arms by chains, being stuffed in a casket sized box for long periods of time, slamming a detainee up against walls, and our new national favorite...waterboarding. Wars of choice.....defrauding America and Congress into attacking the nation of Iraq.
But it is Guantanomo that stands as the symbol of the newer, more brutal, more inhumane, America. And it is Guantanomo where President Obama, despite his campaign promises to the contrary, continues to follow in the footsteps of the Terror Twins.
Nearly two years after Obama's pledge to close the prison at Guantanamo, more inmates there are formally facing the prospect of lifelong detention and fewer are facing charges than the day Obama was elected.
That is in part because Congress has made it difficult to move detainees to the United States for trial. But it also stems from the president's embrace of indefinite detention and his assertion that the congressional authorization for military force, passed after the 2001 terrorist attacks, allows for such detention.
Disingenuous conservatives during the Bush reign repeatedly claimed all-power was granted to the executive branch in the Authorization to Use Military Force against al-Qaeda Act, passed in 2001. Now Obama is making the same claims as those neo-conservative scoundrels.
In 2008, Guantanamo detainees won the right to challenge the lawfulness of their detention in court. The executive order aims to create an executive branch review which would occur separately from the court review and would weigh the necessity of the detention, rather than its lawfulness, officials said.
Indefinite detention. Obama's Bushian moment. Claiming that the AUMF, passed 9 years ago, gave the office of the presidency shiny new powers to establish a completely separate system of justice outside of the Constitution and American system of law.
Yes, conservative scaredy-cats have forced Obama into this situation by refusing to fund the closing of Guantanomo and the transfer of detainees to American prisons. Yes, Fox-inspired cowards have convinced enough Americans that our federal prisons and court systems are not sufficient to deal with the "terrorists."
But it is Obama, himself, who is claiming broad new judicial powers for the presidency, powers to "weigh the necessity of the detention, rather than it's lawfulness."
Consider what America has been doing and what Obama is continuing. One person, the president.....makes the decision on whether or not it is a "necessity" to continue to imprison a suspected bad guy indefinitely and without due process. Innocence or guilt as determined by, you know, laws and juries and all that quaint old stuff.....has been completely set aside.
The 48, or so, detainees being held "indefinitely"...in many cases....we're told....cannot be tried in a court of law because evidence was obtained through torture. A court would throw out the so-called evidence, and rightfully so. But that would leave the government with little-to-no provable justification for continuing to incarcerate specific detainees......creating the possibility that certain detainees would have to be released.
Obama has sidestepped that entire process by granting himself the power to determine the "necessity" of continuing a detainee's indefinite imprisonment. That is the stuff of dictators.
For those readers who will knee-jerk out the response...."but we're at war".....let me say that we're at war against drugs in America, we're still at war against organized crime in America, we're at war against child abuse in America.....but we don't permit the president to stand in for our judicial branch to determine the "necessity" of holding a suspect indefinitely during those ongoing "wars."
Finally, for the president of the most powerful nation ever to grace the face of the earth to continue to play into the Islamic extremist-notion that those extremists are, somehow, uniquely dangerous "holy warriors" on some great and mighty battlefield.....belittles America.
The fact is that these are nihilistic criminals committing violent crimes internationally. These extremists are common criminals...not warriors in some apocalytic-war dreamscape. Treating these common criminals as anything other than common criminals is to play right into the criminal's claim to uniqueness as holy warriors in some opium-pipe-induced end of the world conflict.
The longer our nation accepts this degradation of due process, the longer we, as a people, turn away from very obvious injustices done in our name, the longer we ignore the usurping of power by the executive branch.....the more likely we are to become like the extremists we say we are at war against.