General Question

kevbo's avatar

Any Obama supporters want to defend his recent statements calling for a new legal regime to support "Prolonged & Preventive Detention?"?

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42 Answers

MissAnthrope's avatar

Dang, Obama. :(

susanc's avatar

I know. I don’t get it.

oratio's avatar

The resistance in the congress against closing Guantanamo seems strong.

Maybe he just lost to these powers, and has to make a decision. The Iraq issue is still there, the withdrawal is adjusted.

Maybe he was just words. It remains to be seen. Bush got eight years, even though he was loathed. Obama deserves some benefit of doubt.

But I have to say, I am surprised.

cwilbur's avatar

I’m only an Obama supporter in that I think he’s preferable to all the other alternatives who were likely to accede to the post, and I don’t think his statements are defensible.

bythebay's avatar

Well, I’m not an Obama fan – but I do respect our President. This however is beyond my capacity for support or respect.

oratio's avatar

And he is considering a Preventive Detention Plan, which makes me think about Japanese Internment Camps. I think “The Minority Report” showed how wrong that would be.

Is that unfair?

I would like to hear a good explanation. From him. Anyone.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Is this for real? How did I miss it?
Not Okay Obama. Stick to your guns man!

ubersiren's avatar

Surprise! He’s a puppet!

Facade's avatar

I voted for him, but that doesn’t mean I agree with everything he does.

pikipupiba's avatar

He’s a complete (socialist) idiot.

janbb's avatar

I support him and believe he is doing a very good job, but I don’t get where he’s coming from on this.

filmfann's avatar

First the tin foil hat song.
Now that we are done with that, I understand why he feels he needs to do this. Our other choices are to release them, or shoot them dead.
I am on board with two of these choices.
I voted for and support Obama.

janbb's avatar

I think the problem is some who they suspect are really terrorists but because of the evidence being tainted or illegally gotten, they cannot bring to trial. At least that is my understanding of the issue: I don’t think they are planning to do this to all of them. Still, I have problems with it.

BonusQuestion's avatar

Dale? Are you there? :D

kevbo's avatar

@pikipupiba, in saying this I mainly want to understand where you’re coming from. Do you believe this is a socialist left position and that it would be different (and better) if McCain/Palin or Bush/Cheney or even Hillary were in charge?

PupnTaco's avatar

I think it’s a cop-out.

I accept he won’t be perfect and am keeping my eye on future developments.

And a hearty round of applause for all the old crap being overturned. Hell, even “don’t ask, don’t tell” is under review for revision.

pikipupiba's avatar

@kevbo im not saying we have a better option. That is just where our country is going and I hate it.

kevbo's avatar

Gotcha. Thanks.

aprilsimnel's avatar


I’ve put in my message to him that this is wrong. I doubt anyone on Capitol Hill or at the White House gives a shit, but I can’t not speak out against this. I never have understood what the purpose of such measures are. How can people want that kind of power so badly? It’s sickening.

fireside's avatar

It just makes me wonder about how much we, the public, don’t know.

janbb's avatar

glad to see that Dale is finally weighing in.

tinyfaery's avatar

My optimism went out the window before the first 100 days. I’m hunkering down for the next 4 years and waiting for the worst to happen.

However, I don’t regret my vote. He’s still better than the alternative.

dalepetrie's avatar

Well, I think I must be missing something, but I’ve been called upon to respond, so I will. I read this article, and I don’t see the specific thing he said referenced, only the interpretation of the writer of this article which unfortunately seems like a lot of conjecture and misapplication of what I personally heard Obama say. Again, now if I’m missing something that led to all this hysteria, please point it out, be I heard the speech on the radio when he was giving it, and I’ve gone back to the text now, and I think this is what has people all riled up:

Now, finally, there remains the question of detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people. And I have to be honest here—this is the toughest single issue that we will face. We’re going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country. But even when this process is complete, there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases because evidence may be tainted, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States. Examples of that threat include people who’ve received extensive explosives training at al Qaeda training camps, or commanded Taliban troops in battle, or expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden, or otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans. These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States.

Let me repeat: I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people. Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States, and those that we capture—like other prisoners of war—must be prevented from attacking us again. Having said that, we must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded. They can’t be based simply on what I or the executive branch decide alone. That’s why my administration has begun to reshape the standards that apply to ensure that they are in line with the rule of law. We must have clear, defensible, and lawful standards for those who fall into this category. We must have fair procedures so that we don’t make mistakes. We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified.

I know that creating such a system poses unique challenges. And other countries have grappled with this question; now, so must we. But I want to be very clear that our goal is to construct a legitimate legal framework for the remaining Guantanamo detainees that cannot be transferred. Our goal is not to avoid a legitimate legal framework. In our constitutional system, prolonged detention should not be the decision of any one man. If and when we determine that the United States must hold individuals to keep them from carrying out an act of war, we will do so within a system that involves judicial and congressional oversight. And so, going forward, my administration will work with Congress to develop an appropriate legal regime so that our efforts are consistent with our values and our Constitution.

So yes, I can get behind this 100%....we are at war, and what hie is talking about are POWs. The so-called “new” system he is referring to is nothing more than a legal framework that will allow us to, in the case of people who for whatever reason (often the reasons in this case are going to be that the evidence on which they could be tried was obtained by legal means) who do represent a threat to the American people, and he gave EXAMPLES of this, we can’t just release these people…we HAVE to detain them in the interest of national security.

Now some will say holding people without trial is no different than what Bush did at Gitmo, but I wholly disagree. Unlike Obama, Bush did not have 4 other categories of detainees. Obama is basically saying we need to release those people who aren’t guilty of anything and who pose us no specific threat, we need to try the people who are, and those who are guilty of nothing but who threaten national security. And what further distinguishes what he is proposing is that he says this isn’t HIS decision, no man or single act of Congress should have this power…and he’s right. He’s saying right now, we need to evaluate this, figure out an appropriate response, one that is within a solid legal framework that will allow us to isolate known threats to security, without just holding people for no reason because it’s easier.

All of you who don’t think this is the right way to go, what would YOU do with people who might pose a real, credible threat to US security, whom we have detained, but because the evidence on which we could convict them of a crime was obtained via illegal methods? What’s better, to legitimize the use of torture, to let a danger to our security go free, or to create a legal framework that would keep our country safe by detaining people whom we may not be able to convict, but whom we know pose a threat to us?

You see, I can understand how that last part is sticky for some people, you’re detaining people indefinitely without trying them for preventive purposes…it violates the basic tenets of innocent until proven guilty. But whereas I was very uncomfortable when Bush proposed the same type of thing at Gitmo, the big difference is that Bush moved unilaterally, essentially there was never going to BE an opportunity for someone to be tried. The problem I had wasn’t with the people who threatened our country being held, but with the people who did not, the people who did not commit any crime and who should not be there. What Obama is proposing would basically treat each person appropriately, if they committed a crime, we try them, if they didn’t we let them go, and if they did but we’d have to sell our soul as a nation to get a conviction, and we KNOW that releasing these people would bring us harm, then we have to hold them as POWs, which is not a NEW thing in war.

But you’ve got people writing these articles trying to convince us it’s like some legal loophole where they can just pick you up and make you disappear. Clearly, creating a legal framework that is agreed upon by the President and Congress, and I believe ultimately the American people will agree with it as well, is NOT THE SAME THING.

Again, unless I’m missing something, I think y’all need to take a deep breath here and don’t believe some muckracker’s interpretation….read the speech and see if you don’t agree with it…I’d be hard pressed to understand an Obama supporter who wouldn’t agree explicitly with what he said in that speech. I am 100% unabashedly on board with everything he said, I couldn’t agree more…he is doing EXACTLY what we should have been doing all along, and this whole “controversy” strikes me as some underhanded right wing tactic to misconstrue his words so it will sound like the exact opposite of his intentions.

Again, correct me if I’m wrong.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Well said, Dale. I didn’t like watching the video through the provided link, because they cut Obama’s speech into pieces and added their own opinions throughout. I myself don’t like the idea, but like Dale said, what else can be done?

oratio's avatar

@dalepetrie Very well said. Never read the actual speech.

janbb's avatar

Well said Dale. I wasn’t following the controversy on the news, just reacting to what was said here, and I agree with your interpretation completely. Don’t like the idea of detaining POW’s but don’t know what else we can do with them. (When do we decide that this war is over?)

Thanks for the extensive quote too.

kevbo's avatar

@dalepetrie, I appreciate your thoughtful response. Obviously, you and I start with very different assumptions, and I don’t intend to draw you into an argument about those assumptions.

Here’s the thing. Homeland Security/Patriot Act powers (which were jointly created by the President, Congress and the American people) have already been used to detain and pre-emptively detain peaceful demonstrators, registered observers, and journalists during both the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention. The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act basically says that anyone in the United States who espouses dissenting views is a candidate for anti-terrorism based law enforcement, and there are plenty of reports of “fringe groups” including fans of the Constitution and Constitutional rights being cited as breeding grounds for terrorist activity. So there’s already precedent for anti-terrorism laws and logic aimed at chilling domestic dissent and free speech among Americans who by any measure are acting safely within their rights.

Your logic, by the way, breaks down toward the end “if they committed a crime, we try them and if they didn’t, we let them go, and if they did [but we can’t convict]...” Actually, they need not ever commit a crime to be subject to detention, just like the demonstrators, observers and journalists at the RNC and DNC (unless we accept things like protesting (or planning to protest) outside a “free speech zone” to be a criminal act). And with this, the detention would be indefinite as opposed to 72 hours. The obvious potential with Obama’s initiative is to legitimize the above practice by finagling a legal argument. As I read your argument further, I can see how you might say that a legal framework would potentially protect against the above from happening again. I’m not optimistic, but I’ll concede that’s a possibility. Personally, I believe this “we are not trying to avoid…” business is a straw man argument that attempts to obscure an effort to legitimize and codify illegal practices.

(You might argue, by the way, that the DNC and RNC law enforcement actions happened under Bush, but I would counter that you heard not one iota of protest or call for abatement from Obama’s campaign, and that complicity, I believe, is abhorrent.)

I’ll concede that my argument goes out the window with “We are at war” and that is one of the assumptions where we differ. Wartime does call for a different level of security. My belief, however, is that this is not an “honest” war, if indeed any ever were.

Jack79's avatar

1. The site seems dodgy and I am not exactly sure of what Obama really said, nor do I care enough to check it. But let’s assume for now that things are exactly like they were presented.

2. I like the idea of “preventive” policing. What’s the point in arresting someone who’s already done the damage? Especially if it’s murder? Putting them in jail will not bring your loved one back. Putting them in jail before the crime is committed however, saves lives. So yes, great idea. One minor flaw though: you can never know for sure who will commit a crime, and arresting people on assumptions is not fair. There’s already enough injustice with racial profiling at airports and other borders as it is. And there’s always the philosophical question of free will.

3. The whole logic behind this so-called “War Against Terror” is flawed from the start, and it seems to me that Obama is falling into the demagogic trap. The only terrorist organisation on the face of the planet is the USA. Yes, I know all sorts of people will attack me again, but it’s a fact. USA, the country, is the one who has been intimidating people since the end of WWII, and especially after the end of the Cold War. I have lived in various countries and never met one single person who was afraid his home might get bombed by “Arab Terrorists” or “Muslim Fundamentalists”. There’s a village full of muslims just a couple of miles from here and I go there to eat ice-cream with my daughter. But everyone I know is afraid of being bombed by the USAF, or their country occupied because the US President doesn’t like the local prime-minister. So, mr.Obama, mr.Bush and Co, if you want an end to terrorism, hand yourselves in.

4. Regardless of this article, Obama still seems to me to be a step in the right direction. As a non-American I couldn’t care less about internal policy issues. But the USA is the world’s most powerful country, so the US President’s decisions affect 7 billion lives, whether we like it or not. And overall I have a feeling that Obama is at least trying to work together with everybody else. Whether he’ll manage it, remains to be seen.

Jack79's avatar

Ok I heard the whole thing and read through the transcript and I have to agree with Dalepetrie. Rachel Maddow has twisted Obama’s words and created her own little pocket of reality. Hopefully nobody believes that crap.

So what Obama is basically saying is “we’ve got all these people locked up without a trial, let’s sort them out and see how we can let most of them go free; and next time, let’s be more careful”.

What Maddow is saying is “Obama wants to pick people off the street at will and lock them up forever and ever”.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

bea2345's avatar

What else can the President do? I agree with @dalepetrie.

rooeytoo's avatar

Nobody wants them, for a lot of reasons. And I don’t want them living in the house beside me, do you???

I don’t think the government is perfect but I don’t think it is as devious as some believe either. I don’t think the prisoners were just picked up off the street because some govt official didn’t like them.

I still remember all the innocent people who were killed on 9/11. They weren’t political activists, they didn’t have secret plots to kill the infidels, they were just trying to put food on the table.

Now the argument is that these prisoners were not responsible, I wonder how you are so certain of that, is your knowledge so much more reliable that the governments?

So many are critical and perhaps rightly so, but what are the alternatives, should 9/11 just have been ignored?

bea2345's avatar

Someone (in a different thread) observed that Obama’s way is to throw out difficult questions to the public and listen to the discourse; once there is consensus, his government can act. I think that the remark was spot on. There are over 300 million Americans: that’s a lot of discourse.

bea2345's avatar

I am sorry: I absolutely do not know how to trace that remark.

Aethelwine's avatar

@Jack79 I’m still amazed that msnbc gave Maddow an entire hour each weekday.

dalepetrie's avatar

@kevbo – on re-reading that, you are correct about my logic falling apart…that was a matter of my head getting in front of my hands as I was typing. Bottom line is, I think this is what is key:

“Having said that, we must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded. They can’t be based simply on what I or the executive branch decide alone. That’s why my administration has begun to reshape the standards that apply to ensure that they are in line with the rule of law. We must have clear, defensible, and lawful standards for those who fall into this category. We must have fair procedures so that we don’t make mistakes. We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified.”

But then here’s what the opposition writes:

“Imagine you are picked up off the street for daring to write something provocative in your blog. Perhaps you vaguely threaten to relocate to Afghanistan and work with a humanitarian aid organization there. Unkown [sic] to you the humanitarian aid organization might possibly be associated with the Afghan resistence [sic]. Perhaps the head of the aid organization is the third cousin twice removed of a suspected warlord causing our march for empire trouble on the border. Based on that alone you could be kept in a cell forever. After all, letting you out of that cell might mean you really would do what you threatened and we can’t have that.”

Interesting….basically Obama outlined specifically said that a specific group of people would be subject to this. He said that Gitmo detainees fall into one of five distinct categories:

1) People who can be tried in US Courts…their crimes are in direct violation of US laws and the information likely to come out of the trial will not harm US security.

2) People who should be tried in military tribunals as their actions violated laws of war, in many of these cases it is not appropriate to try them in US courts because the info that comes out COULD represent a threat to national security.

3) People who have been ordered released by the courts. If the courts have said they are free to go, Obama says he has no intention of keeping them.

4) People who it is more appropriate to transfer to another country for whatever reason, where it won’t present a threat to our national security to let them go.

In the few instances, and there will be some, where a prisoner does not fall into one of these categories, AND it is determined that this person would represent a threat to national security, THEN, we have to do SOMETHING with them. Letting them go is not an option, not if you’re the President and it’s your JOB to protect national security. You HAVE to find a way to neutralize the threat, and short of killing them, your option is restricting their freedom.

Technically I can see the argument that it’s a violation of someone’s civil rights in that you are in a situation where you have to deny someone their freedom despite their not having been convicted of a crime, but again, what choice do we have? And yes, that kind of language should make us wary, but it’s ignorant to just say no way, no how, never. So, what Obama established is a very clear set of circumstances which CLEARLY don’t include someone typing on their blog that they’d like to do humanitarian work in Afghanistan or whatever ridiculous, hysterical argument they are trying to make.

Next thing would be, if the President were to say, by some executive order, we’re just going to detain them and forget about them, that would be one thing. But he clearly laid out that we need a framework that governs what we are doing in a very transparent way that does not even have the appearance of our violating their rights. Furthermore, he calls for strict oversight by multiple agencies of their detention to make sure that what we are doing is IN LINE WITH OUR AMERICAN VALUES!

I can understand the concern that we don’t want to codify the existing abilities of law enforcement which Bush created, which were clearly used at the conventions (I live a mile from the site of the RNC convention, I know all about some of the underhanded crap that was pulled). But I think there is no reality based reason to suspect Obama is doing this….this is where it seems like someone who is keen to distrust ANYTHING our elected leaders say would jump all over it, and I think this is what I think is happening here.

Now, a healthy amount of trust is a good thing, but it should be reserved for when it’s appropriate. Let’s see what the legislation that is drafted actually SAYS before we start to worry about all the what ifs.

In short, what Obama is saying right now is we need to do the right thing, exactly what we SHOULD do, the main argument seems to be that when it gets to legislation, it could be written in a way that could make it prone to abuse. We could block Obama now from ever even coming up with a new system which will allow us to deal with these people in a manner consistent with our values because we’re afraid he might codify it in a way that is inconsistent with our values. And if we do THAT, it would have the effect of leaving the open ended Bush policies in place where these people and MANY OTHERS could be detained indefinitely. Or, we could say, OK, what he’s SAYING he wants to do is the right thing, but even if we take him at his word, we know how legislation can be co-opted in the process, so we should be vigilant and get this right, and hold Obama to his word here.

In short, I think your fears are unrealistic and actually self-defeating, and I think it’s because you don’t trust that Obama is a man of his word, perhaps because he is a politician…and that’s fair, we’ve been burned many times by taking politicians at their word (if we hadn’t, we wouldn’t be here). But as for what he said, he said EXACTLY the right things, and his supporters should not allow themselves to be brainwashed into thinking he is “calling for a new legal regime to support Prolonged & Preventive Detention.”

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i think it’s interesting that it’s assumed that, because you support obama, you automatically stand by every single thing he does or says. are you unsupportive of your children if you don’t defend their case when they steal something or start a fight at school? hm.

kevbo's avatar

Sometimes you phrase a question in a particular way to reach the people you want to reach.

kevbo's avatar

@dalepetrie, Okay. I overstepped with “preventive.” Obama doesn’t say anything about preventive. However, preventive detention already exists with the Patriot Act. To be fair, though, there’s nothing said about what type of activity makes you a candidate for detention. So I’m going to take the liberty of excluding your point that typing on your blog, etc. will not lead you to prolonged detention. I suppose both points would apply more directly in a different discussion. You do recognize, though, that we both agree this kind of thing has already happened in a systematic fashion vis a vis the DNC and RNC, right?

His exact words were “we will pursue a new legal regime to detain terrorists,” including “prolonged dentention” which is implied to be relevant “in all probability – ten years from now.” So, I wouldn’t exactly call my original argument brainwashing.

The only other comment I have is that your argument gets squirmy around civil rights. On the one hand you believe that “Bush’s” police tactics are bad, yet you are arguing for “Obama’s” legitimization of prosecutions generated from Patriot Act arrests. You’re praising Obama’s call for a “framework” but excusing the existing framework of police powers because Obama is a good guy who clearly isn’t misusing them. Again, “Technically, I can see the argument that it’s a violation of someone’s civil rights… But he clearly laid out that we need a framework that governs what we are doing in a very transparent way that does not even have the appearance of our violating their rights.”

And I’m being unrealistic and self-defeating because I don’t trust all of the above? Brainwashed? Who in this discussion is talking like a true believer?

dalepetrie's avatar

I used the “brainwashed” mostly in relation to those who think that some new framework designed to meet a specific goal is going to apply to the man on the street who speaks his mind, I think you’re taking my words a bit too far beyond their intended targets.

My point is this. It’s a FACT that there will be some people in US custody who can not be tried, who can not be released and who can not be deported, but who still threaten US Security. It’s a FACT that we need to do SOMETHING with these people. It seems to me that the RIGHT thing to do is to fix what is currently WRONG with the system by creating a NEW legal framework that would allow us to isolate these SPECIFIC threats.

Yes, we both agree that this type of thing HAS happened in a systematic fashion, and that is why I say that a President who makes it clear he intends to work within the letter of the law would NOT repeat the mistakes of the past, if he DID, he would clearly be violating what he is telling us. I don’t believe he has any intention of using that existing framework to detain new suspects, which is the most important thing to do. What becomes morally sticky for me and for everyone I’m sure is that there are going to be cases of people who were picked up using a framework which was not really legal in the first place, so it’s kind of akin to illegal search and seizure, saying that we obtained this evidence but we can’t use it because it was obtained illegally, but we’re going to hold that person anyway even though we can’t use the evidence we have against him.

Morally, probably the most “right” thing to do would be to say, OK, you’re free to go. But the President is in a unique position where he is bound to uphold the Constitution, but he is also bound to defend the security of the nation in a time of war. And as a liberal, I have a hard time saying we should EVER allow Constitutional rights to be stripped from anyone for the interest of national security. But I think what we have here is a unique case for which there is no easy answer, there is no 100% morally pure answer, and therefore, we have to make some judgment calls about which is less harmful.

Normally, I might say that violating the Constitution would be more harmful, however, due to the fact that Obama is actively restoring parts of the Constitution that have been trampled over by his predecessor, and is going out of his way to act within the boundaries set forth, working to strengthen the Constitutional protections, and dealing with everything but this small handful of problematic people which came about via actions he had nothing to do with, he is saying we must find a way to isolate this enough from our ongoing activities, so that we can avoid endangering the safety of our nation. When releasing them is not an option and holding them is not an option, I guess he has to err on the side of caution, and that’s what I see he is doing.

Bottom line, I’m not a true believer in anyone or anything, I just think he’s doing the right thing…he’s doing what I would do. And after all, if we’d been using proper Constitutional protocol all along, we might still have these people in custody, AND be able to prosecute them. So moralistically, it’s the best possible choice among a myriad of shitty choices. What would YOU do?

kevbo's avatar

To answer what would kevbo do, we have to get into the differing assumptions that I mentioned earlier. Maybe I’ll just leave it at that. Thanks again for your responses. Sorry if I got a little snipey.

dalepetrie's avatar

@kevbo – No worries about being “snipey”, I get it, and I think I mostly understand where you’re coming from and what you mean by differing assumptions…clearly there are things we can’t know such as a person’s motivations, and I tend to feel less suspicious about Obama’s motivations than you do, basically because on the surface, so far I’ve agreed with every bit of his rhetoric and every one of his actions, he governs the way I would govern and I ascribe my motivations to him. I guess it’s possible for someone to have motivations other than the ones I have and still come to the same set of conclusions and actions with the intent of arriving at a different result, and unless you can get into someone’s head, you’ll never really know. I feel Obama has earned my trust, but I’m glad there are people out there who want the same things I want, but who don’t completely trust Obama yet…that will keep him honest.

janbb's avatar

@dalepetrie Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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