Gibbs did say that some would be tried in federal courts, although, as he knows, Congress bipartisanly is dead set against that. “Some,” he went on smoothly, “would be tried in military commissions, likely spending the rest of their lives in a maximum‐security prison that nobody, including terrorists, have ever escaped from” (Gibbs‐style due process).
But parts of the Constitution are excluded from military commissions. In any case, Gibbs continued, “Some, regrettably, will have to be indefinitely detained.” If for life, then very regrettably.
Indeed, as the ever‐vigilant St. Petersburg Times columnist Robyn Blumner had already reported (Dec. 23): Our constitutional‐scholar president is preparing an executive order (bypassing Congress) to create a periodic review procedure for the 48 detainees the administration intends to hold without trial — some of whom have already been in Guantanamo for up to eight years.”
But then Blumner got to the real thrust of the executive order: “By turning Bush‐era indefinite detentions into institutionalized policy, President Barack Obama is laying the foundation for future presidents to use preventive detention (imprisonment) as a tool.”
Breaking this story of Obama’s executive order on Dec. 21 (“White House Drafts Executive Order for Indefinite Detention” by Dafna Linzer on ProPublica cited the planned periodic reviews but added the crucial point that establishing “indefinite detention as a long‐term Obama administration policy makes clear that the White House ALONE (emphasis added) will manage a review process for those it chooses to hold without charge of trial.”
So in effect, Mr. President, would you now have your very own private prison?
This executive order, Linzer crucially noted, was set in motion in the spring of 2009. As of this writing, the executive order has yet to be signed by the president, but her story included this comment by the ACLU’s expert litigator on presidential overreaching, Jameel Jaffer: “more review is better,” but an “executive order would only normalize and institutionalize indefinite detention and other policies” that were set in place by the Bush administration.”
What other policies? In “Obama walks back on Guantanamo” (The Guardian, Dec. 22, reprinted by Common Dreams), Karen Greenberg, the executive director of NYU Law School’s valuable Center on Law and Security, reminds those of us who seem to care that: