Maybe I’m impatient. Eight years of BushAdmin bullshit wore my patience to a nub, so that when the new regime takes over with a clear mandate for change, I am in the back seat, asking, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? How about now? … Now? … Or now. Now? … Now now? …. How about now?”
When I read that the ObamAdmin DOJ has tossed the
magical realist legal term “enemy combatant,” my first thought was, “It’s about time, Mr. Changey Pants!” But I kept the cork in the champagne bottle, because 6 weeks or so into the new regime, I know not to start throwing parties. Cuz read what AG Eric Holder is saying
:In its filing today, the government bases its authority to hold detainees at Guantanamo on the Authorization for the Use of Military Force [AUMF], which Congress passed in September 2001, and which authorized the use of force against nations, organizations, or persons the president determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the September 11 attacks, or harbored such organizations or persons. The government’s new standard relies on the international laws of war to inform the scope of the president’s authority under this statute, and makes clear that the government does not claim authority to hold persons based on insignificant or insubstantial support of al Qaeda or the Taliban.
Right, so: The power to detain derives not solely from Executive power, but also from Congressional authority. And the “new standard relies on the international laws of war,” by which one presumes Geneva Conventions, etc. So the folks at the Center for Constitutional Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union should be happy, right?
But in response to this afternoon’s government filing in multiple Guantánamo cases, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) said “while the new government has abandoned the term “Enemy Combatant,” it appears on first reading that whatever they call those they claim the right to detain, they have adopted almost the same standard the Bush administration used to detain people without charge – with one change, the addition of the word “substantially” before the word “supported.” This is really a case of old wine in new bottles.”
CCR added that the Obama administration, “whether in interpreting the laws of war or the AUMF, the government continues to confuse the right to use military force with the right to detain terror suspects indefinitely. It is still unlawful to hold people indefinitely without charge. The men who have been held for more than seven years by our government must be charged or released.”
The American Civil Liberties Union agreed. Anthony D. Romero, the ACLU’s executive director, said he is “deeply” troubled that the “Justice Department continues to use an overly broad interpretation of the laws of war that would permit military detention of individuals who were picked up far from an actual battlefield or who didn’t engage in hostilities against the United States.”
“Once again, the Obama administration has taken a half-step in the right direction,” Romero said. “The Justice Department’s filing leaves the door open to modifying the government’s position; it is critical that the administration promptly narrow the category for individuals who can be held in military detention so that the U.S. truly comports with the laws of war and rejects the unlawful detention power of the past eight years.”