Sunday, May 24, 2009

In Which I Have A Feeling Of Dread

I have gone longer between posts than I usually do. The events of this week, with Obama advocating "preventive detention," and the Senate voting against the amendment to the war funding bill designed to procure funds to close Guantanamo, have pained me to the point that I didn't want to write about them. The Democrats jumped aboard the fear-mongering train, continuing the "not in my backyard" bullshit regarding accepting Gitmo transfers. Now, that pisses me off, and it's stupid, but it doesn't disturb me as much as "preventive detention" does.

I spent a lot of hours campaigning for Obama. I admire and respect him, so should I trust him on this? Is it Constitutionally sound? If it's as wrong as I think it is, am I complicit?

I'm no lawyer, so I sought the opinion of people who know these sorts of things. Frequent Maddow guest Jonathan Turley writes in his blog:

He promised “[w]e are not going to release anyone if it would endanger our national security, nor will we release detainees within the United States who endanger the American people.” Of course, this would mean holding people in violation of domestic and international law — precisely what George Bush did. It is part of the Administration’s effort to appear principled by doing an unprincipled thing. The reason that we cannot try these individuals is because they would win. The solution, according to both Bush and Obama, is not to give them a trial.

(2) Are defenders of Obama's proposals being consistent?

During the Bush years, it was common for Democrats to try to convince conservatives to oppose Bush's executive power expansions by asking them: "Do you really want these powers to be exercised by Hillary Clinton or some liberal President?"

Following that logic, for any Democrat/progressive/liberal/Obama supporter who wants to defend Obama's proposal of "preventive detention," shouldn't you first ask yourself three simple questions:

(a) what would I have said if George Bush and Dick Cheney advocated a law vesting them with the power to preventively imprison people indefinitely and with no charges?;

(b) when Bush and Cheney did preventively imprison large numbers of people, was I in favor of that or did I oppose it, and when right-wing groups such as Heritage Foundation were alone in urging a preventive detention law in 2004, did I support them?; and

(c) even if I'm comfortable with Obama having this new power because I trust him not to abuse it, am I comfortable with future Presidents -- including Republicans -- having the power of indefinite "preventive detention"?

It's "(c)" above that makes my head explode. My answer is, "No."

So, not a good week for those of the liberal persuasion.

My much needed "Moment of Dork:"

DorkFactor of 7.7. Deduction for absence of props.


  1. Surreal times in the Maddow fandom, I have to say. Civil libertarians AND right-wing constitutional scholars are applauding her, everyone at the Huffington Post seems to be mad at her, and the nutcase "Obama is a fascist" crowd are convinced that this proves their worst fears and we'll all be in prison by the end of the week.

    I don't know what to make of it myself. My first guess is that Obama is trying to get Congress on his side, and because everyone is freaking out (for no good reason) over the idea of terrorists in American prisons, this is part of his effort to appear tough. And, of course, he knows things we don't - not an excuse, but part of the reality.

    At any rate, Rachel did her job well last week. Obama's trying - maybe too much - to find a balance between competing interests. If civil libertarians want to start a debate, they need to hit hard - and few people hit harder or more relentlessly than Rachel. I'm waiting to see what Obama does next.

  2. Yea, without a doubt it's very surreal to see right wingers supporting her and left-wingers abandoning her LOL. I never thought I'd see that. There are few liberals supporting her on this and I don't understand why. I guess her anaylsis could have been better but she wasn't wrong in her criticism, IMO.

    I've read all sides on this issue - I think Obama is dead wrong. Keeping them in detention when they have already been in GITMO for like 7/6 years without a trial, is terrible. Something more needs to be done. Either try to gain evidence for trial or release them.

    Most people who are defending this, say that the Geneva Conventions don't outline how long you can keep POW's but see that's where it gets complicated. I think even Obama called them POW's but this is no normal war and these men weren't caught wearing a military uniform like those in WWII and this particular war seems to have no end in sight, even Obama said we could be fighting this for another 20 years - so people are going to rot for 20 years because we are too scared to release them? Are these people even POW's?? Plus, they have been tortured.

    America needs to admit it's mistakes and release them if they cant gather any real evidence, just because the President says they are dangerous - we don't need to accept that because they don't have the evidence to PROVE they have committed a CRIME. We must follow the law.

    The original poster said these events have pained her - me too. It's all I thought about all weekend :(

  3. Sabrina and Yank, thanks for chiming in on what is very troubling news. I've been reading all weekend, trying to get a better handle on it, but I come back to the same place: Obama is wrong. Yank, I hope he is just trying to pacify people, and will right his course. (poor word choice there)

  4. My latest post was about this atrocity and the overall lack of action on so many issues (don't ask, don't tell, for example). I feel like we're splitting hairs - Rachel is right on with the "preventive detention" criticism. Anytime the word preventive or preemptive is in front, ya gotta know what will follow. How have we come to this place in our country, which so values liberty and freedom and the rule of law? I know exactly how you feel, CEP. I'd love to see the Obama we elected start to act in the presidency with as much courage and conviction as he did on the campaign trail. I am dismayed and disheartened as well. Hoping for better days. Great post, CEP.

  5. :) Your welcome

    It's good to see people questioning needs to be questioned and debated. I hope Obama listens.