The Obama administration, fearing a battle with Congress that could stall plans to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, is drafting an executive order that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely, according to three senior government officials with knowledge of White House deliberations.
Such an order would embrace claims by former president George W. Bush that certain people can be detained without trial for long periods under the laws of war. Obama advisers are concerned that an order, which would bypass Congress, could place the president on weaker footing before the courts and anger key supporters, the officials said.
After months of internal debate over how to close the military facility in Cuba, White House officials are increasingly worried that reaching quick agreement with Congress on a new detention system may be impossible. Several officials said there is concern in the White House that the administration may not be able to close the prison by the president’s January deadline.
White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said that there is no executive order and that the administration has not decided whether to issue one. But one administration official suggested that the White House is already trying to build support for an order.
“Civil liberties groups have encouraged the administration, that if a prolonged detention system were to be sought, to do it through executive order,” the official said. Such an order could be rescinded and would not block later efforts to write legislation, but civil liberties groups generally oppose long-term detention, arguing that detainees should be prosecuted or released.
Bbbbbut wait a minute:
Shane Kadidal of the Center for Constitutional Rights told TPMmuckraker via email:
“Prolonged imprisonment without trial is exactly the Guantanamo system that the President promised to shut down. Whatever form it takes – from Congress or the President’s pen – it is anathema to the basic principles of American law and the courts will find it unconstitutional.”
So what about all the cries from Obama about “unlimited executive power” and “ignoring the rule oflaw”? McQ sums up:
So it was never about principle, was it? It was always about politics.
Hope and change.
Lefty bloggers are already erupting in outrage. Will we hear cries of “war criminal!!!!” soon if the admin goes through with the executive order?
Stay tuned …