The Washington Post reports today that Obama administration officials are possibly “crafting language for an executive order that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely.” Impetus for the executive order comes from officials being “increasingly worried that reaching quick agreement with Congress on a new detention system may be impossible.” Additionally, such an order “could be rescinded and would not block later efforts to write legislation.” Over on The Wonk Room, CAP’s Ken Gude explains that while there are still concerns over the emerging policy, “it would be a significant improvement over the Bush administration and would go a long way towards cleaning up the mess at Guantanamo”:
After Congress’ pathetic performance during consideration of Guantanamo funding in the supplemental appropriations bill, it is now evident that no matter how well-intentioned the president and some responsible members are, Congress is not a reliable partner. Whatever would emerge from the sausage grinder risks being far worse than even the already unacceptable status quo. [...]
[Obama's order] would be a significant shift from the Bush administration’s policy that swept into U.S. military detention virtually anyone suspected of terrorist activity captured anywhere in the world. It would restore the bright line between criminal and military detention, a crucial distinction to preserve not just in the United States, but also in other countries that look to or use the U.S. as an example.
There are still ambiguities about whether or not there actually is a draft executive order, as Time’s Michael Scherer notes. Spencer Ackerman spoke to Kate Martin of the Center for National Security Policy, who also said that if Obama “issues an executive order like the one [the Washington Post story describes], it’ll be a major victory.” However, Glenn Greenwald, Digby, the ACLU, and the Center for Constitutional Rights still have significant concerns about the possible order. Steve Benen has more here.