Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Preventive Detention, preventing reelection

I was not and continue to not be an Obamamanic. I was, early on, a Hillary Clinton supporter but became increasingly disappointed in her campaign. I admit I did not think that the US was ready for a black president, but I also did not realize, early on, what a magnificent politician candidate Obama was. By the Indiana primary, after many long minutes in the ballot box, I voted for Obama because he ran a campaign like I thought one should be run, like a social movement.

I voted for him for president.

I did not, however, believe he was the super liberal, leftist, that many of his most ardent supporters did. I think many people projected their own views on him. He was especially skilled at getting people to do that.

So, that he has moved slower on Gitmo than many would like (me too). that he has backed off a little on Iraq withdrawal, that he has gone into Afghanistan (I agree wholeheartedly with that one), that he has not been bold in the specifics of his programs, though bold in scope, well, all that fits what I saw.

I also am not a single issue voter. So far, President Obama has been what I figured he would be. He is still a politician, he take a long view, and he tries to change the terms of debates. All intellectual stuff that I appreciate.

But, BUt, BUT, BUt, BUt......the May 20th NYT article on President Obama's talk on "preventive detention" sickens me. Article is here.

They [anonymous sources] 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.

This really concerns me. What I am hoping all this was, was President Obama being the law professor who posed all kinds of arguments as just an exercise. To see how people responded, to hear arguments for and against. I sure hope so.

If President Obama moves forward in trying to establish some kind of preventive detention, which seems to completely turn our legal and political values on their head, I will be a single issue voter because to undermine due process as we understand it, is far worse than just about anything else the defender of our constitution is supposed to do.

What would pose as a threat? Providing material aid and comfort to terrorists? How about recognizing the legitimate politcal goals but denouncing the means? Would that be worthy of preventive detention? The very idea of this is frightening and I don't frighten easy.

Torture which has happened, repeatedly, and we (the public) don't care, the resistance in Congress to closing Gitmo (I'm not a Lyndsey Graham fan, but I agree with him completely on his position regarding Gitmo), I wonder who is going to resist preventive detention.

The terrorists win if we institute a legal shibboleth to begin preventive detention. Maybe they already have if we are seriously speaking about it.

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