- On May 26, 2009 MSNBC released a video comment by Rachel
Maddow commenting on a speech that Barack Obama had just made in the archives,
in front of the actual Constitution itself. For those who lack video capabilities
here is what she said:
- Indefinite Detention a Tale of Two Speeches
- RACHEL: "A tale of two speeches both from the same
man, both from president Obama. One speech that could have been billed
as a Ballad to the Constitution, a proclamation of American values and
a repudiation of the lawless behavior of the last presidential administration:
And in another speech announcing a radical new claim of 'presidential power'
that is not afforded by the Constitution and that has never been attempted
in American history; even by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Remarkably,
today Obama made both of those speeches simultaneously!
- Standing inside the archives, in front of the actual
Constitution, president Obama delivered a blistering critique of the Bush
administration, in which he called their actions and their legacy
a "literal mess."
- OBAMA: "Our government made a series of hasty decisions,
in a poorly planned haphazard approach; too often we set those principles
aside as luxuries we could no longer afford. Our government made decisions
based on fear rather than foresight. The decisions that were made over
the last eight years established an ad hoc legal approach for 'fighting
terrorism' that was neither effective nor sustainable."
- RACHEL: "An 'ad hoc legal approach for fighting
terrorism' that 'was neither effective nor sustainable.' Ouch! Then
moments later he announced his own ad hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism.
President Obama today proposed something called 'prolonged detention.'
Doesn't sound that bad right? Did you ever see the movie "Minority
Report"? It was based on a Philip K. Dick short story, it came out
in 2002 and starred Tom Cruise, remember? He played a police officer in
something called the Department of
- Pre-Crime. Pre-Crime is where people are arrested and
incarcerated to prevent crimes that they have not yet committed! (a film
clip is played here)
- You didn't do anything, but you're gonna! Future murder,
creepy right? Putting someone in jail, not for what they have done, but
for what you are very sure they're going to do?"
- OBAMA: "There may be a number of people who cannot
be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases because evidence may be tainted;
but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States."
- RACHEL: We're not prosecuting them for past-crimes but
we need to keep them in prison because of our expectation of their future
- OBAMA: Al Qaeda and their affiliates are at war with
the United States and those that we capture, like other prisoners of war,
must be prevented from attacking us again. "
- RACHEL: "Prevented" We will incarcerate people
preventively! Preventive Incarceration! Indefinite detention without trial;
that's what this is! That's what president Obama proposed today. If you
strip away the euphemisms, one civil liberties advocate told the NY Times
today: "We've known this was on the horizon for many years, but we
were able to hold it off with George Bush. The idea that we might find
ourselves fighting with the Obama administration over these powers is really
stunning." And it is stunning; particularly to hear president Obama
claim the power to keep people in prison indefinitely with no charges against
them, no conviction, no sentence, just imprisonment!
- It's particularly stunning to hear him make that claim
in the middle of a speech that was all about The Rule of Law."
- OBAMA: ". . . but we must do so with an abiding
confidence of The Rule of Law. Our government was defending positions that
undermined The Rule of Law, to insure that they are in-line with The Rule
- RACHEL: "How can a president speak the kind of poetry
that president Obama does about The Rule of Law AND call for the power
- preventively imprison people because they might commit
crimes in the future? How can these things co-exist in the same man, even
in the same speech? Well this brings us to the self-conscious awkwardly
embarrassing part of this speech today. After condemning the Bush administration
for what he called their 'ad-hoc legal strategy'; for trying to make things
seem legal that patently weren't-this is what Obama proposed.
- OBAMA: "My administration has begun to reshape the
standards that apply to insure that they are in-line with The Rule of Law.
We must have clear and lawful defensible standards for who shall fall into
this category." [Unlike those unnamed masses that were targeted under
Bush, Cheney & Ashcroft] "We must have a thorough process of periodic
review so that any prolonged detention is kept carefully evaluated and
justified! Our goal is to construct a legitimate legal framework for the
remaining Guantanamo detainees that cannot be transferred. Our goal is
not to avoid a legitimate framework. In our constitutional system, prolonged
detention should not be the decision of any one man. "
- "If an when we determine that the United States
must hold individuals to keep them from carrying out an act of war; we
will do so within a system that involves judicial and congressional oversight.
And so going forward, my administration will work with congress to develop
an appropriate legal regimen so that our efforts are consistent with our
values and our constitution.
- RACHEL: "You'll construct a legal regime to make
indefinite detentions legal-you will develop an appropriate legal regimen!
So you can construct a whole new system outside the courts, even outside
the military commissions so that you can indefinitely imprison people without
charges, and you'll build that system from scratch. What's that somebody
said about 'Ad-hoc legal strategies'?
- Just for context here, [Britain] where there isn't even
a bill of rights; there has been a major debate about whether people can
be held in preventative detention. The Former British Prime Minister wanted
three months to be the outer limit, for how long anyone there could be
held. There was a big political fight about it-Parliament ended up limiting
the power to 28 days. Twenty-eight days is still the longest period of
preventative detention that's allowed under law in any comparable democracy-anywhere
in the world.
- How long will president Obama's Preventative Detention
last? Well he's not saying yet but here's how he defines the threat that
he says makes indefinite detention necessary."
- OBAMA: Right now in distant training camps and in crowded
cities, there are people plotting to take American lives. That will be
the case a year from now; five years from now; and in all probability ten
years from now."
- RACHEL: "Ten years from now? So you could get arrested
today and locked up without a trial, without being convicted, without being
sentenced for say, ten years: Until the threat of your future criminal
- Prolonged Detention he's calling it. This was a beautiful
speech from president Obama today with patriotic, moving, and even poetic
language about The Rule of Law and the Constitution-and-one of the most
radical proposals for defying the Constitution that we have ever heard
made to the American people. End of video tape. (1)
- In addition: "ISLAMABAD - The U.S. is embarking
on a $1 billion crash program to expand its diplomatic presence in Pakistan
and neighboring Afghanistan, another sign that the Obama administration
is making a costly, long-term commitment to war-torn South Asia, U.S. officials
- The White House has asked Congress for - and seems likely
to receive - $736 million to build a new U.S. embassy in Islamabad, along
with permanent housing for U.S. government civilians and new office space
in the Pakistani capital.
- The scale of the projects rivals the giant U.S. Embassy
in Baghdad, which was completed last year after construction delays at
a cost of $740 million." (2)
- Apparently the target which the Green Zone in Iraq has
become, is something that needs to be replicated inside Pakistan? This
from the man who was going to bring the troops home, remember? If ever
there was a waste of three-quarters of a trillion dollars this is it! Between
what Obama, as Bush III is apparently planning, and his current stance
against allowing the tortures to be revealed inside Abu Gharib and elsewhere:
there is little hope that the man who will preside over the fall of the
United States has any interest in saving anything to fight off the looming
problems on the home front that are directly due to these ceaseless and
pointless wars wherein he is continuing the Bush plan for trying to kill
ideas with bullets; when only diplomacy can even remotely bring about any
- 1) Indefinite Detention - video
- 2) Obama Seeks Funds for Pakistan Super-Embassy