Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Obama Slides Further Down Bush’s Hill on Indefinite Detention

Matt Rothschild

 by The Progressive

The Obama Administration is looking more and more like the Bush Administration every day when it comes to the policy of holding prisoners indefinitely, without trial, or even after a trial and an acquittal.

Obama himself is already on record favoring indefinite detention of some prisoners.

"We are going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country," Obama said in May. He alluded to the problem of trying prisoners who were coerced into testifying against themselves. "Even when this process is complete," he said, "there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States."

Now the chief lawyer at the Pentagon has expanded the prospects of indefinite detention to include those who actually have already been prosecuted and have even been found not guilty.

Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson told the Senate on Tuesday that this was a "policy decision officials would make based on their estimate of whether the prisoner posed a future threat." Johnson said that the legality of this position "was never tested."

Well, not exactly. The Supreme Court ruled in the Boumediene case last June that the judiciary has the authority to order the release of an "individual unlawfully detained."

And holding a prisoner after he's been found not guilty is the very definition of "unlawfully detained."

Justice Anthony Kennedy was the author of the court's 5-4 decision, and he minced no words. Our security depends not only on the skill of our intelligence agencies and the might of our Armed Forces, he wrote. It also depends on "fidelity to freedom's first principles. Chief among these are freedom from arbitrary and unlawful restraint and the personal liberty that is secured by adherence to the separation of powers." He added: "Few exercises of judicial power are as legitimate or as necessary as the responsibility to hear challenges to the authority of the Executive to imprison a person."

The general counsel of the Pentagon ought to bone up on the Supreme Court's decision. As should Obama.

Johnson did acknowledge that his view happened to be the same as the Bush Administration's.

And that's a huge problem.


© 2021 The Progressive
Matt Rothschild

Matt Rothschild

Matt Rothschild is the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. Prior to joining the Democracy Campaign at the start of 2015, Matt worked at The Progressive Magazine for 32 years. For most of those, he was the editor and publisher of The Progressive.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·


'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·


Progressives Rebuke Dem Leadership as Clyburn Dismisses Death of Roe as 'Anticlimactic'

"The gap between the Democratic leadership, and younger progressives on the question of 'How Bad Is It?' is just enormous."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo