OBAMA 'MULLING' USE OF DICTATOR'S TOOL
According to the NY Times' Cheryl Gay Stolberg, 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,"
Professor Diane Marie Amann, University of California - In word and tone, the President made clear that he will end "the mess at Guantanamo." At the center of that mess are detainees who cannot be prosecuted, many because U.S. agents coerced statements from them, but who are presumed too dangerous to release.
He signaled a plan by which they - and perhaps other detainees yet to be arrested? - could remain in custody forever without charge. There is no precedent in the American legal tradition for this kind of preventive detention. That is not quite right: precedents do exist, among them the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 and the Japanese internment of the 1940s, but they are widely seen as low points in America's history under the Constitution.
President Obama promised that his "new legal regime" - words identical to those Bush Administration official John Yoo used in 2002 –- will provide an array of "fair procedures." That ought to be a given, for the Constitution requires due process before liberty may be deprived. But no amount of procedures can justify deprivations that, because of their very nature violate the Constitution's core guarantee of liberty.