With a stroke of his pen, President Obama today extinguished any last lingering hopes that his administration would eventually do the right thing on Guantanamo and restore due process rights to all the detainees held there.
In an Executive Order and accompanying fact sheet and press release, the White House formally announced the resumption of Military Commission hearings – memorably denounced as “an enormous failure” by candidate Obama – and outlined the new review process that will accompany the indefinite detention of individuals deemed to dangerous to release and to hard to prosecute.
The decision to resume Military Commissions has been a long time coming. Despite the fact that the most recent Commission cases all ended in a series of shady backroom plea deals which have done nothing to improve their reputation, the administration has now all but abandoned its halfhearted attempts to bring Guantanamo cases to federal court despite the inclusion of some lofty (and entirely unpersuasive) rhetoric to the contrary in today’s announcement.
For detainees slated for indefinite detention the administration has to all intents and purposes resurrected the widely discredited Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) used at Guantanamo by the Bush administration.