Indefinite Detention, Definitely Wrong
“No western government has ever claimed the power to do this,” said Judge Andrew Napolitano, on Fox’s The Plain Truth. “Not the King of England, not Hitler, not Stalin, not even the Russian and Chinese Communists.”
Hitler comparisons are a dime a dozen these days, but Napolitano was not referring to something minor. He was talking about the power to hold someone for the whole of his or her natural life, even after being acquitted in a U.S. court of law.
By a jury.
Yes, on March 7, 2011, Barack Obama, President of the United States, signed an executive order detailing how detainees will be held. Key word: “continued” — which is code for Indefinite.
The president’s supporters squirmed. Obama had promised to close the Guantánamo Bay facility during his campaign. On AlterNet the story was covered as a “step forward.” The Washington Post, on the other hand, quotes Republican Representative Peter T. King saying the order vindicates George W. Bush, whose administration had established the practice of indefinitely holding suspected terrorists at the site.
The order does affirm the right of habeus corpus for detainees. But its aim is to merely provide a review of cases. It doesn’t question “the executive branch’s continued, discretionary exercise of existing detention authority” — which is what rightly bothers Judge Napolitano.
The order is legalese; non-lawyers may nod off. It’s hard to see the Hitlerian element.
But that’s what the “banality of evil” is all about.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.