Obama admin preparing executive order authorizing “parole board” of sorts for Gitmo detainees

Another symbolic but for all intents and purposes meaningless gesture from Team Obama who are essentially doing the same thing candidate Obama blasted President Bush for on the issue of indefinite detention:

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s advisers have been drafting an executive order that would set up a system for periodically reviewing the cases of Guantánamo prisoners whom courts have approved for detention without trial, officials said.

Administration officials are apparently planning to meet this week to debate the details of the draft order, which has not yet gone to the president for approval. In broad strokes, it would establish something like a parole board to evaluate whether each detainee poses a continued threat, or whether he can be safely transferred to another country.

One administration official said that such an order has long been under consideration, noting that Mr. Obama had described the need for such a process in a May 2009 speech when he laid out a plan in which some detainees would likely continue to be held without ever going to trial because they were too dangerous to release but too difficult to prosecute.

“We must have clear, defensible and lawful standards for those who fall in this category,” Mr. Obama said in that speech, which he delivered at the National Archives. “We must have fair procedures so that we don’t make mistakes. We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified.”

The existence of the draft executive order was first reported on the Web sites of The Washington Post and ProPublica on Tuesday evening. Several administration officials confirmed its outlines and offered additional details.

The proposal would replace the “annual review boards” that the Bush administration had used to revisit its decision to hold each prisoner. Under that system, which the Obama administration shut down, a panel of military officers periodically reviewed the accusations against and talked to each prisoner who wanted to participate. The prisoners were not represented by lawyers. Officers then decided whether a prisoner was still a threat or should be released.

The Obama proposal, by contrast, would establish a “periodic review board” drawn from many agencies, not just the military, and modeled on a parole board, one official said. Detainees would be represented by lawyers and would have greater access to some of the evidence against them.

Among the details yet to be determined are how often each detainee’s files would be reviewed, and how often he would receive a full-blown hearing.

The Bush administration set up its annual review board system during its unsuccessful fight to prevent the Supreme Court from granting the detainees a right to have their cases reviewed by federal judges, who could ultimately order their release if the evidence against them was weak.

The Obama administration’s proposal, by contrast, would supplement such habeas corpus hearings in court. While judges would determine whether it was lawful to hold someone as a wartime detainee — because he is part of Al Qaeda or the Taliban — the review boards would determine whether it was necessary to do so, one official explained.

So essentially what we have here for the 48 Gitmo detainees who are too dangerous to let go and too difficult to prosecute is the Bush administration’s review panel under a different name: Parole board.  Very similar concept  – just a different group of people doing the judging.

But wait, Sistah  They’ll have access to a lawyer and some of the evidence used against them … right?

Sounds like it, according the proposed EO, but remember all the hoopla and drama surrounding the suggestion that KSM be tried in NYC in an effort to “show the world” how fair our justice system was/is?  He was going to have that lawyer and evidence access, too – but as it turns out, Attorney General Eric Holder made a mockery of the US justice system and showed the Obama admin/DOJ’s rationale for a potential trial in NYC to be a complete farce when he announced last year that KSM would be held indefinitely no matter the verdict, just not at Gitmo but instead possibly Bagram airfield in Afghanistan. Flashback:

Mr. Holder made it clear that by moving Mr. Mohammed to a prison offshore – such as Bagram in Afghanistan, where hundreds of detainees are held – a release order could be circumvented.

“We have taken the view that the judiciary does not have the ability necessarily to certainly require us to, with people who are held overseas, to release them,” he said.

“It’s hard for me to imagine a set of circumstances, given the other things that we could do with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed” that would result in him being freed,” the Attorney-General said.

“Under the regime we are contemplating … the ability to detain under laws of war, we would retain that ability,” Mr. Holder added, meaning anyone freed by the courts could simply be returned as an enemy combatant to indefinite military detention.

Rule of law? What’s that? To this administration and DOJ, it means, “What the Bush administration did to protect American citizens, just under a different name.”  Current detainees at Gitmo may have access to that lawyer and evidence, but that doesn’t mean a thing if “the system” is rigged so that they will stay there indefinitely anyway, regardless of the outcome of any “parole board hearing.”  That is essentially what the Obama DOJ has argued in the past, and is pretty much what the Bush DOJ argued a President – as CIC – could do.  But when Bush did it, it was supposedly a “black eye” on America in the eyes of the world,  and Bush’s doing it “created more terrorists” – if you listened to the whining from the elite left.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad the Obama administration has more or less seen the light when it comes to holding the worst of the worst indefinitely during a time of war without trial.   As Commander in Chief, a President has that authority – as President Bush did and as other wartime Presidents did before him.  What infuriates me is that once again we have a situation where this administration is offering up a symbolic gesture to make it look like they’re trying to “clearly distinguish” themselves from the “reckless” counterterrorism policies of the previous administration, where in reality they’re basically doing the same thing – there’s just a “new sheriff” in town, so to speak.  

Will he be called out on this by the mainstream media who, along with “outraged” left wingers in Congress and Euro elites elsewhere, ripped President Bush a new one for his policies on the indefinite detention of terrorists captured in the battlefield? Don’t count on it.

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