The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Matthew Allee, (202) 580-6922 or

Constitution Project Decries Consideration of Preventive Detention by the Obama Administration


Recent news accounts indicate that the Obama administration is
considering issuing an executive order that would establish a policy of
indefinite detention without charge for some of the suspected
terrorists being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, where m
ore than 200 men are still being detained. In his speech on national
security matters in May, President Obama spoke of the need to create a
system of "prolonged detention" for a category of detainees who cannot
be tried and are too dangerous to release. The Constitution Project
rejects this premise and urges the administration not to follow this

The following can be attributed to Sharon Bradford Franklin, Senior Counsel at the Constitution Project:

Obama has often proclaimed his commitment to our nation's
constitutional principles and a restoration of the rule of law. But, if
his administration moves forward with a policy of preventive detention,
as recent news accounts indicate it is considering, he will have failed
to live up to his soaring rhetoric. Whether authorized by executive
order or legislation, indefinite detention without charge or trial runs
counter to the fundamental principles of our system of justice.

federal courts have proven their capacity to handle the most difficult
cases involving charges of terrorism and highly sensitive national
security intelligence. The Obama administration should embrace this
tradition and allow judges to do the job they have been assigned by our
Constitution. It should refuse to legalize a system of indefinite
detention, through either executive order or legislation, and should
instead prosecute suspected terrorists within our civilian courts. Only
that approach to closing Guantanamo will allow for the full restoration
of the rule of law our nation badly needs."

The Constitution
Project's Liberty and Security Committee released a report, "A Critique
of 'National Security Courts,'" objecting to the policy of indefinite
or preventive detention without charge. The report was signed by a
broad bipartisan coalition of over thirty-five political leaders,
national security experts, and legal scholars, and was updated in March
to include endorsements from additional former federal judges and
prosecutors, and from supporting organizations. To see the report, go

The Constitution Project is a politically independent think tank established in 1997 to promote and defend constitutional safeguards. More information about the Constitution Project is available at