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Indefinite Detention Comes to American Soil

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Indefinite Detention Comes to American Soil"


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Spencer Ackerman rounds up the latest on constitutional rights for human beings:

The Obama administration’s Guantanamo task force has concluded that there are approximately 50 detainees held at the facility in Cuba that the government should continue to detain, indefinitely, without trial. Either the task force reached that decision in Month 11 out of its 12-month operation or a senior administration official on a conference call in December passed along some incorrect information.

All this raises the question of how the powers claimed by the Bush admin– oh, sorry, the Obama administration to detain someone indefinitely can withstand a legal challenge. The Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that Guantanamo detainees have a right to habeas corpus, a decision that removed the last argument for keeping the detention facility open as a venue for holding someone without charge. Obama plans to move the remaining detainees to the Thomson Correction Center in Illinois. Does the administration expect the courts to suddenly determine that the Constitution of the United States applies less to Illinois than it does to a naval base in Cuba? The cynical view is that the administration is looking to the courts to take the political heat of determining that the detainees must either be charged in some venue — civilian trials or military commissions — or released.

My plan, I suppose, is that the Obama administration should threaten corporations with indefinite detention without trial if he doesn’t like their political contributions. That would presumably get the Supreme Court engaged with this civil liberties problem.

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