Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) Rejects Military Commissions & Indefinite Detentions

In a letter to Pres. Obama, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) of the Senate Judiciary Committee expressed support for the closing of the Gitmo gulag, and appreciation for the Obama administration’s continued rejection of torture and the many Bush admin. erosions of the rule of law.  However, Feingold rejected the use of even modified military commissions (Feingold and Obama both voted against the Military Commissions Act of 2006) and promised senate judiciary hearings as to whether the Obama modifications brought these tribunals within the rule of law. (Feingold sees no reason why normal federal courts or military courts cannot try all the detainees or terrorism suspects.  Neither do I.)

Feingold also challenges the Obama administration’s claim that a few Gitmo detainees cannot be tried or released.  Feingold alleges that the very concept of indefinite detention (or preventive detention) without trial is “almost certainly unconstitutional.”  I agree. 

I’m glad to see the Congress (at least in the form of Sen. Feingold) reassert itself as a separate and equal part of government.  And the only cure for the Obama administration’s move toward the right (in the face of pressure from Cheney and co.) is to give pressure from the left.  But  this still falls short of the need for the D.o.J. appointing a special prosecutor to investigate and try all involved in Bush-era war crimes (or any war crimes since the change of administrations).

May 25, 2009 - Posted by | civil liberties, criminal justice, human rights., torture


  1. Hmm. I thought the Constitution was to provide for the rights of U.S. citizens, not those outsiders trying to kill them.

    Comment by Chuck | May 25, 2009

  2. “Gitmo gulag”. Why resort to such language Michael. There is no Gitmo gulag and you know it.

    Comment by Paul | May 26, 2009

  3. If you mean that the prisons are not as extensive as in the Soviet gulags, you’re right, Paul. But I use the term to mean that Gitmo was/is a political prison where human rights were violated, just as with the gulags.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | May 26, 2009

  4. 1) “Outsiders trying to kill them” must be proved, not just alleged. Even the Bush admin. admitted that the majority of the Gitmo “detainees” were there by mistake. Bush released over 500. Of the 250 left, maybe 40 are actual terrorists.
    2) Some of the rights spelled out in the Constitution are only for U.S. citizens, like the right to vote. Some, such as right to trial by jury, have ALWAYS been understood in our legal system to apply to ALL whether citizens or not. That’s why we tried Nazis (and gave them lawyers, etc.) instead of just imprisoning them or killing them. We try non-citizens who commit crimes (or are accused of such) while in the states all the time. Usually the language of the Constitution itself indicates the difference. I can’t believe you are really this ignorant about our own legal system, Chuck. This is what happens when we stop requiring civics in American schools.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | May 26, 2009

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: