Thursday, July 9, 2009

OBAMA CLAIMS RIGHT TO KEEP PEOPLE IMPRISONED EVEN IF ACQUITTED

Although the administration is theoretically talking about "terrorists," all it takes is for it to declare you one and it applies to you as well.

Glenn Greenwald, Salon - Spencer Ackerman attended a Senate hearing at which the DOD's General Counsel, Jeh Johnson, testified. Johnson actually said that even for those detainees to whom the Obama administration deigns to give a real trial in a real court, the President has the power to continue to imprison them indefinitely even if they are acquitted at their trial. About this assertion of "presidential post-acquittal detention power" -- an Orwellian term (and a Kafkaesque concept) that should send shivers down the spine of anyone who cares at all about the most basic liberties -- Ackerman wrote, with some understatement, that it "moved the Obama administration into new territory from a civil liberties perspective." Law professor Jonathan Turley was more blunt: "The Obama Administration continues its retention and expansion of abusive Bush policies — now clearly Obama policies on indefinite detention."

In June, Robert Gibbs was repeatedly asked by ABC News' Jake Tapper whether accused terrorists who were given a trial and were acquitted would be released as a result of the acquittal, but Gibbs -- amazingly -- refused to make that commitment. But this is the first time an Obama official has affirmatively stated that they have the "post-acquittal detention" power (and, to my knowledge, the Bush administration never claimed the power to detain someone even if they were acquitted).

All of this underscores what has clearly emerged as the core "principle" of Obama justice when it comes to accused terrorists -- namely, "due process" is pure window dressing with only one goal: to ensure that anyone the president wants to keep imprisoned will remain in prison.

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