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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Yesterday, President Obama and his Department of Justice struck down another pillar holding up Bush's house of horrors, removing the "enemy combatant" classification from further use:
In a filing with the DC District Court, the DoJ said that it would no longer use the term and asserted a new standard for the government’s authority to hold detainees at Gitmo. The Obama administration is still claiming that it has the authority to hold prisoners there, but it will now be based on authority from Congress and the international laws of war. The Bush administration claimed that the president could unilaterally hold prisoners without charge.

Though it is at one level merely semantic - tripping up some of the more reactionary critics of the policy, on both the right and left - Saturn Smith notes why this is an important change:
This doesn't change immediately the situation of any of the detainees. They're still being held in Guantanamo the same as they were yesterday, and their prospects moving through the justice system -- or lack thereof -- are the same.

What it does change is the source of the president's authority for holding them there. No longer, this statement says, are they being held there at the whim -- on the executive authority -- of the president. Instead, the filing rests on both international law and a specific Congressional act. While I (and many) disagree with some of the provisions of that Authorization for the Use of Military Force, what's not arguable is that it's a law that came to being in the regular, old-fashioned way that we make laws here.

We're moving back to the order of law. Flawed law made by flawed people, sure, but still -- law. Instead of decree.

Big step. And about time.


Blogger Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

words do not change the way americans see otheres - its our history

March 16, 2009 at 11:41 AM  

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