April 11, 2009

SO, TELL ME AGAIN, WHO WERE THE RUBES?

Civil liberties advocates blasted the Bush administration for subjecting Guantanamo Bay captives to indefinite detention and for denying them access to federal courts. The outrage over Guantanamo Bay among President Obama’s liberal base and among the populations of certain United States allies (particularly in Europe) probably explains why President Obama’s first set of executive orders included a provision directing the closure of the controversial detention facility.

The Obama administration, however, has taken the position that Supreme Court’s reasoning in Boumediene does not confer habeas rights to Bagram detainees. This is the same argument that the Bush administration made. This logic, however, could support the capture and transfer of individuals to Bagram, where they could face prolonged and indefinite detention and denial of access to United States courts. Bagram could become the functional equivalent of Guantanamo Bay.

Glenn Greenwald comments:

My, what a ringing and inspiring defense of habeas corpus that was from candidate Barack Obama. So moving and eloquent and passionate. And that George W. Bush sure was an awful tyrant for trying to “create a legal black hole at Guantanamo” — apparently, all Good People devoted to a restoration of the rule of law and the Constitution know that the place where the U.S. should “create a legal black hole” for abducted detainees is Bagram, not Guantanamo. What a fundamental difference that is. . . . The Obama DOJ is now squarely to the Right of an extremely conservative, pro-executive-power, Bush 43-appointed judge on issues of executive power and due-process-less detentions.

Yeah, it’s as if all that talk about the evil power-grabs of the Bush Administration was just insincere electioneering. What made those power-grabs evil, in Obama’s eyes, wasn’t that they were power-grabs. It was that they were by the Bush Administration. The rest was just talk. Some of us are less surprised than others at this development.

UPDATE: “A Guantanamo by any other name?”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Barry Dauphin emails: “Next thing you know, waterboarding won’t be torture at Bagram. Hope and Change!” They’ll rename it “Aquaplaning.”

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