There are flaws within these passages from what President Obama said yesterday:
Indeed, the legal challenges that have sparked so much debate in recent weeks in Washington would be taking place whether or not I decided to close Guantanamo. For example, the court order to release seventeen Uighur detainees took place last fall – when George Bush was President. The Supreme Court that invalidated the system of prosecution at Guantanamo in 2006 was overwhelmingly appointed by Republican Presidents.
In 2006, I did strongly oppose legislation proposed by the Bush Administration and passed by the Congress because it failed to establish a legitimate legal framework, with the kind of meaningful due process and rights for the accused that could stand up on appeal.
First off, our Supreme Court has yet to afford Constitutional due process to foreign enemies; in 2006, it said Congress must create the Commissions for the President to use. In addition Tom Joscelyn, on The Blog at The Weekly Standard, points out that Judge Urbina’s order to bring the 17 Uighurs at Guantanamo into the United States and release them was invalidated in February by a higher court, “We are certain that no habeas corpus court since the time of Edward I ever ordered such an extraordinary remedy.” (also see this report)
As a friend put it yesterday:
They are hiding behind the courts. Obama again today made it sound like some flunky federal judge, some lower court judge ordered him to release Uihgurs into the US. As if a lower level judge can tell the president of the US what to do on matters of warfare and national security. Ridiculous. He pulled the same thing with the EIT memos … as if there is no right of appeal, as if there is no executive privilege, as if there is no national security argument. He hides behind the courts, as if they are superior to the Executive Branch. That’s how liberals think. It’s undemocratic … it’s how they circumvent the People.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs twice this week said the Supreme Court has (Boumediene v Bush) “largely” found Military Commissions to be un-Constitutional. Yet Boumediene only invalidated the detention review provisions of the Detainee Treatment Act and Section 7 of the Military Commissions Act. In addition, some have stated that the Supreme Court ruled detainees cannot be held indefinitely. In fact, in its 2004 Hamdi v Rumsfeld decision, the Court expressly ruled enemy detainees could be held indefinitely; in Boumediene it only held that detainees must be granted a “meaningful opportunity” to challenge their detentions.
Here is a sampling of how others reacted, starting off with the leading voice of the hate-America-first crowd; the Leftists are not quite publicly in tune with President Obama:
There are Guantanamo prisoners who violated the laws of war and should be tried in military tribunals, but not the existing ones created by Congress in 2006. That law should not be tinkered with. It should be scrapped and those prisoners should be tried under military law. Some prisoners can be transferred to other governments’ custody and some, who committed no crimes, should be released. And, yes, some should be allowed to live in the United States. — the Editors, New York Times
True to his September 10 philosophy, President Obama declared on Thursday that the civilian courts were “tough enough” to convict terrorists. That has never been the question. The problems are that the criminal-justice system cannot apprehend many terrorists (only 29 terrorists, mostly low-level, were prosecuted during the eight years of attacks leading up to 9/11), and that the few trials it manages become intelligence troves for the many thousands of terrorists remaining at large. — the Editors, National Review Online
It is also not true, no matter how many times Mr. Obama and his supporters repeat it, that Guantanamo Bay and enhanced interrogation (or “torture” as they call it) are primary drivers of terrorist recruitment. The principal exacerbating factor in recruitment is successful terrorist attacks. — Andy McCarthy, National Review Online
Excoriating Bush is good politics for Obama, which is what makes his repeated exhortations to look ahead so disingenuous. In his speech, he rued that “we have a return of the politicization of these issues.” In other words: Dick Cheney, please shut up. But when did the politicization of these issues end? Has the Left ever stopped braying about Bush’s war crimes? — Rich Lowry, National Review
Obama sought the high ground yesterday, arguing about laws, values and morals. Again, Cheney had a powerful answer: No moral code requires Americans to commit suicide to spare terrorists unpleasantries. “When an entire population is targeted by a terror network, nothing is more consistent with American values than to stop them,” [Cheney] said. Obama can switch course to reach some “higher” moral plane if he wants. But if he does, he may be putting the nation at risk. — the Editors, New York Post