Maddow: Prolonged Detention, President Obama?

I don’t often agree with Rachel Maddow, but there’s no question regarding her intellect. She is probably the most intelligent talking head on television today.  Though I do disagree with her often, the clips and thoughts I do see have the virtue of at least being well thought through.

So when it came down to the question of the status of prisoners/detainees at Guantanamo Bay, I was mildly shocked that Maddow broke away from the fawning most folks expect from the MSNBC crowd.  Instead, she absolutely hammers Obama — and correctly — on the idea of prolonged detention:

Prolonged detention?

At least under the old framework, terrorists were held under a military tribunal. Now, Obama purports to create a “legal framework” for prolonged detentions

? Without benefit of the rule of law or trial? For an act one might do as opposed to an act done?  Tearing down the rule of law for the sake of preventing future, presupposed actions by a few?

St. Thomas More had something to say about this, did he not?

And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

For those who might ask where this criticism was for the Bush administration, I would argue that we’re seeing two different strategies being applied here. What President Bush did was take a category of combatants without status as nationals and detain them. And if you feel that to be wrong or morally uncomfortable, what Obama is prepared to do is to create a codified and legal justification for such work.

Under Bush, one knew an end was in sight and sensed that an extraordinary threat required extraordinary solutions. Under Obama, such actions will be made legal, repeatable… and quite ordinary.

People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.  People willing to codify those means ultimately sacrifice much more than their freedoms.

(h/t to OSV’s Daily Take


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