Thursday, May 21, 2009

Obama vs. the Left, Part II: President considering preventive detention for terrorists

President said to be looking to the future

No sooner do I write "It's Obama, the Centrist, vs. the Left" than The New York Times reports that the President told human rights advocates at a private White House meeting that he's "mulling the need for a 'preventive detention' system that would establish a legal basis for the United States to incarcerate terrorism suspects who are deemed a threat to national security but cannot be tried."

Whoa. Something big is afoot here. The President has discovered that the nation needs to take extraordinary steps to defend its people. He's using his persuasive ways and his immense popularity to explore possibilities with likely dissenters to co-opt them or at least minimize their opposition. That won't be easy with this crowd:

The two participants, outsiders who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the session was intended to be off the record, said they left the meeting dismayed.

They said Mr. Obama told them he was thinking about “the long game” — how to establish a legal system that would endure for future presidents. He raised the issue of preventive detention himself, but made clear that he had not made a decision on it. Several senior White House officials did not respond to requests for comment on the outsiders’ accounts.

“He was almost ruminating over the need for statutory change to the laws so that we can deal with individuals who we can’t charge and detain,” one participant said. “We’ve known this is on the horizon for many years, but we were able to hold it off with George Bush. The idea that we might find ourselves fighting with the Obama administration over these powers is really stunning.”
Stunning, indeed. Still, I think Obama will be able to keep the bulk of the Democratic Party and a big slice of the commentariat behind him, even on preventive detention, leaving the left isolated.

What's your opinion? Post a comment.


  1. Hey why not use preventive detention for American citizens too?

  2. Because American citizens are protected by our Constitution, that's why.