Obama Flips on Indefinite Detention of Americans

Obama Flips on Indefinite Detention of Americans December 16, 2011

In a recent discussion about the provision in the new defense authorization bill that allows indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay even for American citizens arrested on U.S. soil, someone expressed hope because Obama had threatened to veto the bill if it included that provision. I told them there was no way in hell Obama would follow through on that threat — and I was right.

Barack Obama has abandoned a commitment to veto a new security law that allows the military to indefinitely detain without trial American terrorism suspects arrested on US soil who could then be shipped to Guantánamo Bay.

Human rights groups accused the president of deserting his principles and disregarding the long-established principle that the military is not used in domestic policing. The legislation has also been strongly criticised by libertarians on the right angered at the stripping of individual rights for the duration of “a war that appears to have no end”.

The law, contained in the defence authorisation bill that funds the US military, effectively extends the battlefield in the “war on terror” to the US and applies the established principle that combatants in any war are subject to military detention…

“It’s something so radical that it would have been considered crazy had it been pushed by the Bush administration,” said Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch. “It establishes precisely the kind of system that the United States has consistently urged other countries not to adopt. At a time when the United States is urging Egypt, for example, to scrap its emergency law and military courts, this is not consistent.”

If that surprises you in the least, you haven’t been paying attention. I’ll say it again: When it comes to civil liberties and the rule of law, Obama hasn’t just been a disappointment — he’s been an absolute disaster.

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