July 9, 2009

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH: I didn’t vote for Barack Obama.

Which means, I don’t have to have the scales fall from my eyes over the President’s decision to claim “post-acquittal detention power.” To be sure, I agree with Mark Kleiman (no, that is not a typo) that we can keep prisoners of war for as long as necessary, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Obama Administration is essentially going to engage in show trials when it comes to a lot of the detainees affected by its most recent decision on detainee policy. In the strictest sense, the legal status of the detainees is affected by whether they are found guilty or not-guilty in these trials, but as Kleiman writes, if someone has engaged in warfare against the United States, that person “should be held as long as the conflict lasts, even if that turns out to be forever.” So irrespective of the outcome of a trial, the defendant will remain in prison, and that will mean that many of those trials are going to have no effect whatsoever on the lives of the defendants in question. And that means that the Obama Administration’s guarantee of a fair trial or due process for these defendants is utterly meaningless.

And yet, before the election it was a matter of fierce moral urgency. Plus this: “It looks like Dick Cheney was right. Despite Candidate Obama’s promises, President Obama does not have, and never had any intention whatsoever to give up the powers of the ‘Imperial Presidency.’”