Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft, a criminal defense attorney and Obama supporter who frequently writes about people who were wrongfully convicted and other abuses of our criminal justice system, casually laid this rotten egg yesterday:
During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama said he would close Guantanamo during his first 100 days in office. This morning, on ABC‘s This Week with Stephanopoulos, he backtracked:
“It is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize,” the President-elect explained. “Part of the challenge that you have is that you have a bunch of folks that have been detained, many of whom who may be very dangerous who have not been put on trial or have not gone through some adjudication. And some of the evidence against them may be tainted even though it’s true.
And so how to balance creating a process that adheres to rule of law, habeas corpus, basic principles of Anglo American legal system, by doing it in a way that doesn’t result in releasing people who are intent on blowing us up.”
Shorter version: It will close at some point, just not as soon as he promised.
She then goes on to ho-hum the news that Obama isn’t interested in prosecuting any Cheney-Bush war crimes either. Glenn Greenwald gets kinda wordy but he nails it:
What he’s saying is quite clear. There are detainees who the U.S. may not be able to convict in a court of law. Why not? Because the evidence that we believe establishes their guilt was obtained by torture, and it is therefore likely inadmissible in our courts (torture-obtained evidence is inadmissible in all courts in the civilized world; one might say it’s a defining attribute of being civilized). But Obama wants to detain them anyway — even though we can’t convict them of anything in our courts of law. So before he can close Guantanamo, he wants a new, special court to be created — presumably by an act of Congress — where evidence obtained by torture (confessions and the like) can be used to justify someone’s detention and where, presumably, other safeguards are abolished. That’s what he means when he refers to “creating a process.”
It’s not surprising that Jeralyn takes the news that Obama is breaking yet another promise so lightly. We’re only talking about war crimes, constitutional rights, due process violations, illegal detention and torture. It’s not anything important like Troopergate.
UPDATE: Jeralyn has a new post with sensible recommendations for closing Gitmo, leaving her 177 posts short of her Troopergate coverage.
(graphic courtesy of New Hampster)