Obama mulling ‘preventive detention’ without trials, report says


(RAW STORY)   President Barack Obama said he was considering finding a legal basis for holding detainees who can’t be tried, according to accounts from an off-the-record conversation with human rights activists on Wednesday.

The New York Times, which reported the meeting, gave scant details. A “preventive detention” program would most likely be currently extralegal, or beyond the realm of law, because it would involve the incarceration of individuals without recourse to a trial, paralleling President George W. Bush’s decision to classify Guantanamo Bay detainees as “enemy combatants.”

Human rights advocates are growing deeply uneasy with Mr. Obama’s stance on these issues, especially his recent move to block the release of photographs showing abuse of detainees, and his announcement that he is willing to try terrorism suspects in military commissions — a concept he criticized bitterly as a presidential candidate…

They said Mr. Obama told them he was thinking about “the long game” — how to establish a legal system that would endure for future presidents. He raised the issue of preventive detention himself, but made clear that he had not made a decision on it. Several senior White House officials did not respond to requests for comment on the outsiders’ accounts.

“He was almost ruminating over the need for statutory change to the laws so that we can deal with individuals who we can’t charge and detain,” one participant said. “We’ve known this is on the horizon for many years, but we were able to hold it off with George Bush. The idea that we might find ourselves fighting with the Obama administration over these powers is really stunning.”

Another participant allegedly told the Times Obama didn’t seem to be ruminating on preventive detention for Guantanamo deatinees, but rather those captured in the future.

“The issue is,” the participant was quoted as saying, “What are the options left open to a future president?”

The full Times story is available here.


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