Preventive Detention

By Anthony | May 23rd, 2009 | 12:14 am

I gotta start paying attention to these sorts of things again. If Greenwald is portraying this accurately, it’s absolutely chilling:

It’s important to be clear about what “preventive detention” authorizes. It does not merely allow the U.S. Government to imprison people alleged to have committed Terrorist acts yet who are unable to be convicted in a civilian court proceeding. That class is merely a subset, perhaps a small subset, of who the Government can detain. Far more significant, “preventive detention” allows indefinite imprisonment not based on proven crimes or past violations of law, but of those deemed generally “dangerous” by the Government for various reasons (such as, as Obama put it yesterday, they “expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden” or “otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans”). That’s what “preventive” means: imprisoning people because the Government claims they are likely to engage in violent acts in the future because they are alleged to be “combatants.”

Once known, the details of the proposal could — and likely will — make this even more extreme by extending the “preventive detention” power beyond a handful of Guantanamo detainees to anyone, anywhere in the world, alleged to be a “combatant.” After all, once you accept the rationale on which this proposal is based — namely, that the U.S. Government must, in order to keep us safe, preventively detain “dangerous” people even when they can’t prove they violated any laws — there’s no coherent reason whatsoever to limit that power to people already at Guantanamo, as opposed to indefinitely imprisoning with no trials all allegedly “dangerous” combatants, whether located in Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia, Western countries and even the U.S.

This is insane and indefensible. And Greenwald is right – it may be limited to the Guantanamo prisoners right now, but there’s no reason to think it’s going to remain that way. I sincerely hope that anyone who spoke out against the Bush administration’s abuses of civil liberties and rule of law will be consistent and criticize Obama for this proposal.

2 Responses to “Preventive Detention”

  1. Brenda Bowers Says:

    Anthony, haven’t visited forever. am sorry, but you dropped out for awhile and I got out of the habit.

    Of the 500+ detainees from Gitmo who have been released fully 1/3 have returned to their terrorist activities. Of the 253 or so left these are considered the hard core who have expresses again and again their plans to attack the United States as soon as they are released. Obama is having the same problem the Bush administration had in closing Gitmo: no one would take these hard core admitted terrorists—-not even their home countries.

    I do understand where you are going with your argument but the suspension of habeas corpus has been done before during war times and lifted later. Frankly, Obama is engaged in activities far more dangerous to our nation than This one. I am blogging about them every day and giving reputable references for every post. We Americans are about to lose our sovereignty unless American wake up very quickly.

  2. Wolfgang Says:

    Brenda, do you understand what the rule of law is for? Sorry to say this so directly, but it looks like you miss a very important point about it.

    It is interesting that you just publish a post about the rule of law on your blog, and you complain about Obama breaking it. If you remove it, at some point you end up where the Roman Empire ended up, a change in power involved assassination of the Imperator. A small group of people, the Romans, that have a higher protection, plus the rest of the world out to bring the whole thing down.

    And, I guess a lot of criminals are returning criminals, eventually. It has always been like that. Civilized and modern handling of this involves helping them to find a better place in society. This usually works well. Its a bit stomach turning to offer this to a suspected terrorist, but it would help in some cases.

    But maybe you want to change to the hardcore, and join those who want to cut of the hands of thieves. Become more like the enemy. Great approach!

    And finally, how America loses its sovereignty here, I don’t understand. 9/11, 9/11, 9/11. Doesn’t work anymore. I think America is just waking up, from eight very dark years. You are the one who is still sleeping.