The Obama Administration Wants To Keep its Gitmo at Sea to Itself

The USS Carl Vinson arrives at Pearl Harbor. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/usnavy/7209422340/sizes/m/in/photostream/" target="_blank">Flickr/US Navy</a>

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Adam Serwer is filling in while Kevin is on vacation.

Last year the Obama administration secretly imprisoned Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, an alleged member of the Somali militant group Al Shabab, on an aircraft carrier and interrogated him for two months before bringing him to the US and indicting him. No one was very happy about that decision. It made Republicans in Congress mad because they want Obama to add more prisoners to Gitmo and keep Muslims accused of terrorism out of civilian courts, and it frustrated civil libertarians and human rights groups who argued the administration had detained Warsame illegally.

Republicans, worried that Obama might prosecute more suspected terrorists in civilian court, crafted the latest defense authorization bill to ensure they’re notified within five days the next time someone is detained on a Navy ship for months. The administration has threatened to veto the defense bill over that provision, saying it would “unnecessarily complicate and potentially compromise military operations and detention practices.”

This is basically where civil liberties are in the Obama era: legislators are only interested in forcing detention policy to the right, and occasionally the Obama administration’s desire to avoid restrictions on executive power results in more favorable (but far from ideal) outcomes for people accused of terrorism. Obama’s veto threats are notoriously insincere, and preventing the administration from using the “Gitmo at Sea” option seems likely to result in more legally questionable proxy detentions of American citizens by foreign security forces with reputations for abusing those they detain

It’s not much of a choice, and it probably won’t get any better if the White House changes hands in November. Republicans will lose their newfound interest in keeping an eye on whatever the executive branch is doing, and the Democrats will have largely squandered whatever credibility they have to oversee a Republican president by acquiescing to the Obama administration’s continuity with much of the Bush platform on national security. 


SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate