Gavel Grab

Detention Law Decision Gets Mixed Reaction


The Obama administration’s decision not to pursue legislation to set up a preventive detention system for terrorism suspects is getting mixed reviews from major newspaper editorial pages.

The Washington Post, in an editorial headlined “Mr. Obama punts,” berated his administration as having “chosen the politically expedient and intellectually dishonest route.” Obama contends that legislation passed by Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks allow him to imprison some terror suspects indefinitely without trial, according to the newspaper, and that will affect about 50 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay because the administration has found they can’t be prosecuted in federal court and are too risky to release  The Post added:

“Passing new legislation would have been difficult, and the president has other policy matters that command his attention. But rather than tackling hard questions as he pledged to do during his campaing, Mr. Obama in this instance has ducked them.”

The Los Angeles Times declared in an editorial that the Guantanamo detainees “deserve their day in court.” It alluded to the concern of critics of Guantanamo who didn’t want a  law setting up a “national security court” invested with determining “future dangerousness” of detainees and perhaps leading to a two-tiered system of justice for terror suspects.  The editorial agreed with that concern. It went on to urge the following:

“By far the best solution to this quandary would be for all of the remaining detainees to be tried in civilian courts on terrorism charges and freed if they were acquitted. If the administration insists that a small number are too dangerous to release even in the event of an acquittal, it must abide by Obama’s promise that its decisions will be subject to meaningful review by the courts. The Constitution requires that safeguard.”

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