Obama confronts Bush's legal legacy


The new president will soon have to confront some interesting legal problems, such as the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war, wiretapping of citizens, detention of prisoners and citizens without trial, torture procedures, and possibly the decision whether to prosecute officials for crimes in office.

On one hand, civil libertarians and other critics of the Bush administration may feel betrayed if Obama doesn't move aggressively to reverse legal policies that they believe have violated the Constitution and international law.

On the other hand, Obama risks alienating some conservative Americans and some — but by no means all — military and intelligence officials if he seeks to hold officials accountable for those expansive policies.

These are some of the legal issues confronting him:
* How does he close the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba? He's pledged to shutter it, but how quickly can he do so when it holds some detainees whom no administration would want to release?
* Obama has declared coercive interrogation methods such as waterboarding unconstitutional and illegal, but will his Justice Department investigate or prosecute Bush administration officials who ordered or condoned such techniques?
* Will the new administration press to learn the full extent of the Bush administration's electronic eavesdropping and data-mining activities, and will it curtail or halt some of them?
* The Bush administration exerted tight control over the Justice Department by hiring more Republican-leaning political appointees and ousting those who were viewed as disloyal. Will Obama give the department more ideological independence?

Although Obama is likely to ban waterboarding and other aggressive techniques soon after taking office, prosecuting administration officials not only would be legally challenging because legislation has granted them immunity but also would be seen by Republicans as highly divisive.

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prisoners will NEVER leave Cuba.Where is the Chicago thug going to put them? In Chicago?!All blowing in the wind jive! The, Bush Doctrine, of protecting America against attack has WORKED real good so far. Don't change it! The Constitution?!?!,America haters have found a way to kill the unborn in it so,if these liars can find that in there well,anything then can be! There is no problems confronting the street thug that raising the white flag won't solve.BESIDES,he can always BLAME, BUSH! That works for hurricanes, AIDS,crack, home loans,and everything else twerps believe!.

José Padilla (born October 18, 1970), also known as Abdullah al-Muhajir or Muhajir Abdullah, is a United States citizen convicted of aiding terrorists. Padilla was arrested in Chicago on May 8, 2002, and was detained as a material witness until June 9, 2002, when President Bush designated him an illegal enemy combatant and transferred him to a military prison, arguing that he was thereby not entitled to trial in civilian courts. Padilla was held for three-and-a-half years as an "enemy combatant" after his arrest in 2002 on suspicion of plotting a radioactive "dirty bomb" attack. That charge was dropped and his case was moved to a civilian court after pressure from civil liberties groups.

On January 3, 2006, he was transferred to a Miami, Florida, jail to face criminal conspiracy charges. On August 16, 2007, José Padilla was found guilty, by a federal jury, of charges against him that he conspired to kill people in an overseas jihad and to fund and support overseas terrorism. He was widely described in media as a suspect of planning to build and explode a "dirty bomb" in the United States, but he was not convicted on this charge.

On January 22, 2008, Padilla was sentenced by Judge Marcia G. Cooke of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida to 17 years and four months in prison. His mother, Estela Ortega Lebron was relieved but announced that they would appeal the judgment: "You have to understand that the government was asking for 30 years to life sentence in prison. We have a chance to appeal, and in the appeal we're gonna do better."[1] Padilla is serving his sentence at the high-security Supermax prison ADX Florence in Florence, Colorado.

Your a flippin idiot if you think people like this should be protected. Thank GOD someone had the good sense to detain people like this.

Troy, the flippin' idiot here is YOU. Those accused of crimes are those in most need of the protections of our law. Padilla is a United States citizen and as such was entitled to a speedy trial and access to counsel and all the rest of that crap which you've so gleefully dismissed.

We have CENTURIES of great philosophers speaking cogently about the observance of rights, yet all that is like water off a duck's back to your mind. When they finally come for YOU, you'll only have ensured there is nobody left to speak for YOUR treatment.

The Constitution is a stubborn thing, isn't it troy?

Pink Slip
A "threat to our political system"

Pink Slip

The Constitution is a stubborn thing, isn't it troy?

Well, you'd certainly know all about that! Right, Pink?

Mad Jack
Mad Jack's Shack

Say what, Jack?

Pink Slip
A "threat to our political system"

Pink Slip

Troy, everyone, guilty and not guilty, should be protected from the power of the state. The Constitution says so. What are you, anti-American, Communist, or Fascist? The Constitution protects everyone and provides constitutional provisions for all Americans, including habeas corpus and the right to a trial. What do you want, a gulag state like the USSR?

Prisoners deserve a right to timely trial. Period. I'm glad he was caught, for sure. But each and every one of the prisoners deserves the right to present their case, and have the case against them presented, in an open process in our judicial system. It's not a sometime proposition, when convenient - it is part of the fabric of our society. If guilty of a crime, then move forward to sentencing, if not, let them go. The implications of having a system where someone can be held indefinitely without proper legal proceedings and recourse are chilling.

Prisoners of war do not have the right to any trial.

Abraham Lincoln suspended trials during the Civil war because it was not expedient in the larger scheme of things. Of course, he had his critics too, and he was just the best president in the history of this country.

I hope liberals continue to preach on behalf of the rights of the POWs in Gitmo.

This has nothing to do with "liberals preaching rights" and everything to do with preserving what little remains of our tattered, battered laws. Unless you want to live in a dictatorship.

As for Lincoln, he fought an unnecessary and unauthorized war and, in so doing, was the first dictator the US has had. Much of what we learned in school about him was pure myth. He was in fact a force for ruthless western expansionism, the dominance of Northern industry over Southern agriculture, and out to break the back of states' power in favor of a dominant, centralized Federal government. In that, he succeeded.

"During the Civil War, Lincoln appropriated powers no previous President had wielded: he used his war powers to proclaim a blockade, suspended the writ of habeas corpus, spent money without congressional authorization, and imprisoned 18,000 suspected Confederate sympathizers without trial."http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Lincoln

"Dictatorship played a decisive role in the North's successful effort to maintain the Union by force of arms," wrote Clinton Rossiter in Constitutional Dictatorship. And, "Lincoln's amazing disregard for the Constitution was considered by nobody as legal."

Padilla was never considered a POW. POW's are entitled to certain protections under the Geneva Convention. That's why they called him an "enemy combatant".

"The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it."

Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War doesn't compare with Bush's War on Terra. The subsequent court rulings back this opinion up.

Pink Slip
A "threat to our political system"

Pink Slip

Looks like we were on the same wavelength Pink Slip!

Good call, wombat.

I would like to add for Brian though, that it's not about preaching on behalf of the Gitmo prisoners. It's about preaching on behalf of the Constitution. You're right though, that is a liberal position.

Pink Slip
A "threat to our political system"

Pink Slip

Okay, I hope that liberals continue to advocate for the constitutional rights of enemy combatants.

Leave it to liberals to weigh in on behalf of our enemies to assure that they are treated fairly.

A respected nation that hold's principles of human dignity, fairness, and human rights, and a beacon of freedom would do themselves well if they convicted these men in a fair manner. If the 'enemy combatants' have enough evidence against them, they will be tried and convicted. What scare's you about that? 9-11 is not an excuse to abandon the principles of this nation. If you would like to live in a nation where the government can detain you for anything and hold you secretly indefinitely, then move to China.

Typical conservative…Padilla is an American citizen!

You talk about small, limited government, but you want the government to have the ability to pull an American citizen off the streets of the United States, hold them indefinitely, try them in secret and execute them without ever getting council.

Go back to hiding under your mother skirt you bed wetter.

As Franklin said "Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither."

When they come for you, I hope there is someone left to defend you.

The Supreme Court seems to disagree with you:

June 12 2008 Supreme Court ruling
On June 12, 2008 the United States Supreme Court ruled in Boumediene v. Bush that the Guantanamo captives were entitled to the protection of the United States Constitution


It was only one of the more recent challenges against the practice of detaining people without charges or access to legal process.

The current administration wasn't classifying the detainees as POWs, instead as enemy combatants. They were not recognized to be allowed rights as POWs, including Geneva Convention provisions, until forced by the courts to allow rudimentary rights. Something we would be outraged by if it were our citizens elsewhere. I may not be all that liberal, but I will speak out for the rights of people ~ it should be core to the fabric of who we are as a nation.

I understand that Abraham Lincoln suspended the Great Writ. This is not the Civil War, or even close to the same situation.

Hey, you guys, since when did upholding the laws and Constitution become a mark of liberals? Conservative principles have always supported the law and the rights of individuals against state power. Only recently have the so-called Republican conservatives subverted those principles and become not only outrageously "liberal" in bending the law, but they have become outright radicals and revolutionaries. True conservatism follows the Constitution and law. It is outrageous that this small group of Republican anti-constitutionalists have co-opted the brand and turned it on its head.

Libertarian Ron Paul is a true conservative. See what he has to say on this subject.
Military Tribunals and Guantanamo Bay
When asked where he stands on Guantanamo in June 2007, Rep. Paul (R-TX) replied, “Shut it down” (Muckraker Report). “This is an issue that flies in the face of our civic and legal traditions as outlined in the Constitution.” he said.

Homeland Security
Rep. Paul (R-TX) voted against a number of homeland security measures that he considered to be infringements on personal liberties. Further, he implied in a May 2007 Republican debate that he would do away with the Department of Homeland Security, which he called a “gigantic bureaucracy.” Paul voted against the Patriot Act in 2001. He was one of only four Congressmen to vote against the 2006 DHS Authorization Act. He also voted against implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendation Act in 2007, the Real ID Act of 2005, and the Homeland Security Act of 2002. Paul voted against the Homeland Security Department Authorization Act FY06.

Paul, whose views are strongly libertarian, often stresses his unwillingness to vote for any bill that is not “expressly authorized by the Constitution.” He was the only Republican member of Congress running for president who did not vote to authorize the Iraq war in 2002. He remains critical of U.S. involvement in the region and says the war “was sold to us with false information.” Paul’s campaign focuses on typical libertarian issues: small government, lower taxes, free market policies, and non-interventionism abroad.

"It is outrageous that this small group of Republican anti-constitutionalists have co-opted the brand and turned it on its head."

Small group of Republicans? They held the majority in Congress since from 1995 to 2006. That same majority hijacked Ron Paul and the party did everything they could to keep him from being on the Republican ticket in favor of flaky McCain.

I will agree with you on Ron Paul, however, he is a true conservative. I may not always agree with some of his policies, but at least he adheres to what he preaches and actually preaches true conservatism. He never really spoke on social conservatism, rightfully so being that it is not the role of government to govern social issues. He spoke of economic conservatism and smaller, more efficient use of government.

Of course, I'm talking about Bush, Cheney, and the rest of the pack of neo-conservatives. This whole attack on the Constitution would have never gone as far as it has without their aggressive pushing for absolute statism and supreme Executive Powers. The majority of Republicans in Congress went along unthinkingly with their program... or else were too scared to disagree.

"The majority of Republicans in Congress went along unthinkingly with their program... or else were too scared to disagree."

Which, thankfully, those Republicans are being eliminated from Congress. They unthinkingly went along because they wouldn't dare stand up to their own party. Under Bush/ Cheney, the size of government has increased exponentially along with spending. Hopefully some true conservatives rise in their place -- Democrat or Republican. Republicans have no standing to attack the current Democrats until they actually exercise their majority and we see what they do with that power in the coming years. I'd find it kind of hard for a Republican nowadays to label Democrats as socialist, big government/money spending liberals when the previous Republicans displayed that in larger terms than any modern Democrat.

This is part of what I'm talking about. None of the current administration and probably few of the so-called conservative party have any justification to call themselves conservatives. They are spendthrifts, wastrels, and fiscal nincompoops. They have foisted onto us a vision of America that is incompatible with our democratic traditions and laws. I say that not only are they not conservatives, they are dangerous wild-eyed radicals who want to overturn our government. They should all be prosecuted for high crimes and misdemeanors and thrown in jail.

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