Sunday, February 22, 2009

Obama sides with Bush on Aghanistan detainees

By Michael J.W. Stickings

This may have been "generally expected among legal specialists," but it is nonetheless a huge disappointment for those of us who expected, or at least thought there was a good possibility, that Obama would overturn some of Bush's more egregious policies with respect to detainees in the so-called war on terror, not to mention for those of us who care about human rights:

The Obama administration has told a federal judge that military detainees in Afghanistan have no legal right to challenge their imprisonment there, embracing a key argument of former President Bush's legal team.

In a two-sentence filing late Friday, the Justice Department said that the new administration had reviewed its position in a case brought by prisoners at the United States Air Force base at Bagram, just north of the Afghan capital. The Obama team determined that the Bush policy was correct: such prisoners cannot sue for their release.

I know, I know. This is what Glenn Greenwald and others have been warning us about for a long time, namely, that Obama is more like Bush than Obama's supporters -- including me -- would care to admit. I still think that Obama's policies thus far have marked a dramatic turn away from Bush (committing to close Gitmo, putting an end to the use of torture of detainees in U.S. custody, ending the practice of extraordinary rendition, etc.), but Obama deserves to be criticized, harshly criticized, for not going far enough, and, on issues like this one, for maintaining the injustices of his predecessor's generally unjust prosecution of the so-called war on terror.

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