George Bush did a lot of things that upset a lot of people. One of them was authorizing the indefinite detention of suspected terrorists in Guantánamo prison, where he hoped they’d be beyond the reach of the U.S. legal system.
The very idea reeked of arrogant American imperialism run amok. Because we were Americans, we could snatch anyone from anywhere at anytime, arbitrarily label them terrorist suspects or enemy combatants, and toss them into Gitmo without further hearings, charges, or proof. Because we were aggrieved Americans, we had the right to flout any law on the face of the planet and hold these people indefinitely because they might pose a threat to us — a policy known as preventive detention.
During his campaign, Obama promised to end the abuses at Gitmo and close the place. And he’s been backing away from that promise ever since.
Now he’s even gone so far as to suggest preventive detention may continue and he will “reshape” our legal standards to ensure we have in place a “legitimate legal framework” and an “appropriate legal regime” for doing it. Scary, that — overhauling our current legal system to allow us to incarcerate people indefinitely just because we think they might act against us in the future.
Do we really want to go there?