Thursday, May 21, 2009

Preventive detention

The New York Times reports

President Obama told human rights advocates at the White House on Wednesday that he was mulling the need for a “preventive detention” system that would establish a legal basis for the United States to incarcerate terrorism suspects who are deemed a threat to national security but cannot be tried, two participants in the private session said.
Jane Mayer wrote a few months ago about the Obama administration considering such a "preventive detention" system. It sounds, frankly, Orwellian.

A number of national-security lawyers in both parties favor the creation of some new form of preventive detention. They do not believe that it is the President’s prerogative to lock “enemy combatants” up indefinitely, yet they fear that neither the criminal courts nor the military system is suited for the handling of transnational terrorists, whom they do not consider to be ordinary criminals or conventional soldiers. Instead, they suggest that Obama should work with Congress to write new laws, possibly creating a “national-security court,” which could order certain suspects to be held without a trial.
Great. Fantastic. Nothing makes me feel more secure about United States respect for the rule of law and civil liberties than creating a "national-security court" which can operate largely in secret and parallel to our legal system in order to order persons designated a threat to the "homeland" held indefinitely without charges or a trial.

See Unclaimed Territory for further commentary.

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