Thursday, September 24, 2009

Obama Will Not Seek Further Legislative Power to Continue Detention

The New York Times reports that the Obama administration will not try to pass further legislation to justify/clarify standards for detention of terrorist suspects. They say that current legislation is basis enough for the government's detention power. They are going to use the current legislation as a basis to hold up to 50 current detainees indefinitely because they are deemed to dangerous to release yet cannot be brought to trial for various reasons. The government says that it will use the current habeas system to review the detention of those that they will detain further.

The article does not say what the specific legislative basis for detention is but I assume they are referring to the Authorization for Use Of Military Force ("AUMF") that was passed on the heels of September 11th. While I believe that we can't simply let terrorists go I also believe that we need more specific and targeted legislation to legitimize the detention system. The AUMF is too broad to base detention powers on. The AUMF gives the President power that is essentially unilimited in time. If we base detention powers on that ground then we are allowing the Executive to detain people forever without any truly defined system by which to manage those detainees. The article says that part of the reason for this move is that any legislation on this subject is likely to be met with a great deal of resistance from Congress and I realize that, but from a purely ideological standpoint it makes me uncomfortable that we can just hold people without trial and without any kind of set procedures to deal with those particular people.

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