In a new article about how the Obama administration will confront the legal challenges of Bush’s war on terror, former Attorney General John Ashcroft defends the continued detention of a terror suspect, Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, on a naval brig in South Carolina. Al-Marri has been held as an “enemy combatant” for more than seven years, though the government has yet to charge him with a crime. Ashcroft told the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer that the only difference between Obama and Bush on detainee policy will likely be how they spell their names:
John Ashcroft, who was Attorney General when Marri was designated an enemy combatant, makes no…apologies. Interviewed just before the Inauguration, he defended what he described as a “sound decision” to “maximize the national interest,” and predicted that, in the end, President Obama’s approach to handling terror suspects would closely mirror his own: “How will he be different? The main difference is going to be that he spells his name ‘O-b-a-m-a,’ not ‘B-u-s-h.’”
In December, Dick Cheney predicted that Obama would keep the Guantanamo detention facility open. When Rush Limbaugh asked whether Gitmo is something the Obama administration is “going to be appreciative of once they get there and see it,” Cheney replied, “I think so.”
Rachel Maddow spoke with Jane Mayer last night about her article. Watch the interview here.