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Control Freak Obama Usurps All Three Branches of Government on Indefinite Detention

The news has emerged that President Barack Obama is considering an executive order to impose a system of indefinite detention without trial in the United States of America. The New York Times interviewed Obama administration officials to uncover the reasons why:

At the heart of the issue are more than 200 men being held at Guantánamo, in some cases for years. Initially, the administration had hoped that most could either be sent back to their home countries or tried in criminal courts in the United States. But emptying the prison has proved politically difficult.

Officials acknowledge that they have had trouble persuading other countries to accept detainees, and it now appears that some detainees — as many as several dozen — are unlikely candidates for criminal trials because of legal issues, including having evidence against them that was obtained by coerced interrogations.

Legislation remains an option, officials said, but the possibility of an executive order, which would bypass Congress, seems to indicate that the administration fears it may be unable to reach an agreement with lawmakers on a new detention system to replace Guantánamo.

Got that? Let’s rephrase: the Obama White House wants to issue an executive order to detain people because it doesn’t believe a judicial trial would convict the people it wants imprisoned and it doesn’t believe that the sort of legislative bill it wants would pass Congress.

Remember your high school American civics class and the lesson on the checks and balances of power distributed between three coequal branches of government? When Barack Obama was a candidate a year ago, he told us he remembered that lesson, too. He told us that change doesn’t come from the top down, but from the bottom up. He told us that he had read the Constitution and taught the Constitution and believed in the Constitution. He told us he’d restore judicial review to detainees and the right to a fair trial. He told us he’d restore human rights and civil rights for individuals. He told us he’d restore due process and rule of law, not rule by edict.

Now that he’s President, and he doesn’t think he’ll get the outcome he wants on individual cases from the legislative and judicial branches, he’s decided he’s going to overrule judicial power, to overrule Congress’ power of legislation, to overrule the Constitution itself. Rather than deal with the pesky separation of powers, Barack Obama will issue his personal edict that in America, there is no more right to a speedy, public trial by impartial jury. Under Barack Obama’s presidential declaration, Barack Obama will be judge, Barack Obama will be jury, and Barack Obama will be jailer. There are names for a person who feels desperately that unless he controls every aspect of a situation, it will all turn out wrong. “Micromanager” is a polite one. “Control freak” is more blunt. “Tyrant” is usually the one we use in politics.

Does this remind you of anyone? Does it remind you of George W. Bush? Does it remind you of Dick Cheney? It should. The Obama administration has adopted the kingly aspirations of the Bush administration. History tells us that it’s a bad idea to let control freaks and tyrants grab the crown, or to fashion a crown for themselves when none exists.

I expect some of you are thinking right now that this really isn’t such a big deal, that it can’t be such a big deal, because Barack Obama seems like such a nice fellow. Besides, you might be thinking, President Obama is just doing what he has to do to clean up after the messes of the Bush administration, to deal with the aftermath of leftover detainees. He’ll resolve the issue of the Guantanamo detainees, you’re thinking, and then we can move forward without looking backward to the dawn of a new bright and shiny day where we all hold hands on the hillside and teach the world to sing in perfect harmony and buy the world a Coke and keep it company…

… well, hold on there, Sheila. Read what the Washington Post reports, after speaking to Obama administration officials, about the plans for this executive order:

Such detainees — those at Guantanamo and those who may be captured in the future — would also have the right to legal representation during confinement and access to some of the information that is being used to keep them behind bars…. One administration official said future transfers to the United States for long-term detention would be rare.

Did you notice the word “future” there? Funny word, “future”: it usually refers to what somebody’s planning to do next.

7 comments to Control Freak Obama Usurps All Three Branches of Government on Indefinite Detention

  • qs

    We need a Constitutional amendment banning these executive orders. Actually we need a constitutional amendment doing away with the executive branch all together while we’re at it.

  • gst

    Ya don’t need a Constitutional amendment to prohibit these abusive “executive orders”. It’s already in the Constitution. Why else would you need an executive order other than to usurp other laws? If you made 100 amendments to make them illegal, they would still be just as illegal.

    They were illegal under Bush. They were illegal under Clinton.

    But no one seems to care.

    • qs

      Of course Andrew Jackson had some sort of policy that nullified Native Americans claims to land. The Supreme Court ruled that his policy was illegal and that the native americans did have a claim to their treaties.

      Jackson responded to the SC by instructing them to try and enforce their laws if that’s what they thought and laughed, which is instructive because it’s who controls the military who actually gets to make the laws.

  • MG

    9/11 Truth
    Restore Constitutional Sovereignty

  • Looks like it’s intended to give the option of moving detainees from Guantanamo to another detainment center wherein they might at least have some legal rights to counsel and a defense against what they’re being charged with which is better than they’ve got now. It appears that it is not such a simple thing to close Guantanamo and set free all the detainees– where do you put them if no country will accept them? There is no precedence for this situation, these are military prisoners ( I may find that inappropriate, but such as it currently is, that’s the status). I would not necessarily leap to the conclusions in your article. Guantanamo is already outside standard US laws regarding indefinite detention, not to mention torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and that’s one reason that it’s in Cuba! It can’t legally exist here in the States. Hell, it’s even against the Geneva Convention.

    One thing that the president was already confronted with is the fact that at least one released suspected terrorist (supposedly) went straight to his best option for employment: terrorist. Even if that’s right wing propaganda, it’s the kind of thing which sticks. So, he can’t just let them all go or put them up at the local Motel 6. The president stated early on that he thought that the US legal system was capable of dealing with suspected terrorists, and this was in opposition to Cheney’s POV, which was basically to imprison and torture these guys until they “confess”. However, our legal system is primarily equipped to deal with US citizens. So our current “detainees” would typically be deported and then dealt with by their countries of origin.

    Bear in mind also, that some of these guys might actually be guilty. They’ve already been picked up and detained for some reason, now they’ve all ben denied basic human rights– plug them into our legal system and every last one of them walks. If they weren’t enemies of the State before, well they certainly are now. I mean, I probably would be.

    Then if you want to do right by International law– a whole bunch of our government officials would have to be dealt with as war criminals. Maybe that’s what should happen in the long run but there are certain harsh realities at stake when it comes to dealing with our “checks and balances” system of government– you have to throw some bones to the Republicans if you want to get anything done. I don’t see this as a power grab by the current president but more likely as a compromise in order to make some headway towards some of his stated goals.

    But, we can agree to disagree and I thank y’all for keeping an eye on these “slippery slope” situations.

  • Paul, you’ve already gone slipping down to the bottom of that slippery slope. I notice how you’ve gone and concluded that when a group of people are rounded up and imprisoned, if just some of them might be guilty, it’s a good thing to treat them all as if they are guilty, presuming guilt until innocence is proven, and doing away with that whole court of law thing that the Constitution guarantees all people under the jurisdiction of the US government.

    It’s amazing what people like you are willing to excuse, just so long as it’s Barack Obama doing it.

    How many bones did George W. Bush throw us, when he was President, Paul?

  • Tom

    Obama is rapidly losing his base as he keeps trying to mollify Republicans and continue the Bush policies of torture and war. i agree with Paul that Congress (and now Obama too) is complicit in the Iraq fiasco, torture, war crimes and even the financial debacle – so i have little to no hope for our future (other than as a chaotic bankrupt banana republic). Where are the green energy jobs and the whole re-focus on a sustainable future?

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