Oh Goody, A Constitutional Lawyer In The White House!

Glenn Greenwald on Obama's plan to build a "new process" to convict those Guantanamo detainees kept on the basis of evidence obtained by torture: Wha

Glenn Greenwald on Obama's plan to build a "new process" to convict those Guantanamo detainees kept on the basis of evidence obtained by torture:

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."

Amazingly, when discussing the same topic, Obama vowed that "we will send a message to the world that we are serious about our values." How? By creating a new court just for accused Islamic radicals that allows us to use confessions and other evidence that we obtained through torture? That sounds like exactly the same "message about our values" that we've been sending.

Digby has more:

But I would suggest that Obama contemplate one little thing before he decides to try to find "middle ground" on torture. It is a trap. If he continues to torture in any way or even tacitly agrees to allow it in certain circumstances, the intelligence community will make sure it is leaked. They want protection from both parties and there is no better way to do it than to implicate Obama. And the result of that will be to destroy his foreign policy.

If the man who represents the second chance this country's been given around the world to repudiate the horrors of the Bush years is revealed to have perpetuated the same horrors, his credibility and foreign policy will be in shambles. And there are many people buried in the intelligence and military establishments who would be happy to make sure that happens.

Obama said today on Stephanopoulos that he doesn't want to look backwards but that Eric Holder could conceivably find something that must be prosecuted. (Good luck with those hearings, dude.) And he said that closing Guantanamo was a difficult matter that would probably have to be dealt with by creating some new hybrid justice system. Of course, the Bush administration did that too with the military commissions, and they haven't exactly worked out too well. But hey, the people languishing in Gitmo for years can wait a few more for the next shiny new justice system to be proven useless too. No hurry there.

As Greenwald discusses today, Obama is doing what all Democrats in my adult lifetime have always done --- he is working as hard as he can to prove that he isn't captive to his left. (You would think that the fact that the left is the law and order faction on this issue would at least make some of them scratch their heads.) And he seems to be doing a good job of it --- even Pat Buchanan is effusive in his praise of Obama for making sure that everyone knows he isn't "Reverend Wright's man."

But I'm not sure that's what's required right now. The nation is confused and scared about their economic security. They are embarrassed and angry at what the Republicans did. In fact, it seems that I heard somebody recently talking about how they desperately wanted ... change. I guess that's a word that's open to interpretation, but it seems to me that it's at least possible that they meant they wanted Obama to change the policies of the Bush administration.

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