Commentary Magazine


Talk About an Education

The president is getting a lesson on Iran and despotic thugs. He’s also apparently learned something about the architecture which George W. Bush put in place to conduct the war on terror: it works! Or at least there is no viable alternative. The Washington Post reports:

The Obama administration, fearing a battle with Congress that could stall plans to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, is drafting an executive order that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely, according to three senior government officials with knowledge of White House deliberations.

Such an order would embrace claims by former president George W. Bush that certain people can be detained without trial for long periods under the laws of war. Obama advisers are concerned that bypassing Congress could place the president on weaker footing before the courts and anger key supporters, the officials said.

After months of internal debate over how to close the facility in Cuba, White House officials are increasingly worried that reaching quick agreement with Congress on a new detention system may be impossible. Several officials said there is concern in the White House that the administration may not be able to close the facility by the president’s January deadline.

Well, I’m sure the ACLU and Left blogosphere will have a meltdown. Once again, those who cheered the president on and took his campaign rhetoric seriously are left disappointed. As the Post puts it:

Instituting long-term detention through an executive order would leave Obama vulnerable to charges that he is willing to forsake the legislative branch of government, as his predecessor often did. Bush’s detention policies suffered successive defeats in the courts in part because they lacked congressional approval and tried to exclude judicial oversight.

Still unclear is exactly where this indefinite detention will occur. But at least we know that all that talk about “shredding the Constitution” was just that — talk.