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February 21, 2009

Obama DoJ...Yeah, Bush Was Right About Afghanistan Detainees

One is beginning to get the sense that a lot of the outrage from then candidate Obama about the Bush administration's War on Terror policies was less than honest and brave dissent. Based on the actions of the now President Obama, you might even call his campaign rhetoric shameless opportunism and playing politics with war and national security.

The Justice Department told a federal court Friday that it shouldn’t consider legal challenges filed by prisoners being held in Afghanistan by the U.S. military — another example of the Obama administration hewing to one of President Bush’s war-on-terror stances.

In a short legal filing, Justice Department lawyers said they planned to maintain the Bush administration’s claim that the roughly 600 prisoners held in Afghaninstan have no right to contest their detention in the courts. “The Government adheres to its previously articulated position,” the attorneys said.

Candidate Obama was pretty happy that the detainees at Gitmo were given constitutional protections in the Boumediene decision. Now, he says detainees held at Bagram in Afghanistan shouldn't get them.

What exactly is the philosophical distinction Obama is making now? Damned if I know. I'm sure Andrew Sullivan, Glenn Greenwald and Rick Ellensburg will explain it all to us shortly.

In the end we'll only know if there's any difference between Gitmo and Bagram when His Most Serene And Wise Majesty, The Honorable Giver of Justice And Shower of the One True Way, Anthony Kennedy flips his magic coin and we find out if it's heads or tales.

Also [Gabe]: A copy of the very, very short filing is here (PDF). Nothing exciting except that one of the parties has the unfortunate name "Haji Wazir", which might have been a bit too "on the nose."

Also, watch out for this case. This is only the government's filing. The judge, John D. Bates, gave the impression during oral arguments that he believes that some of the Bagram detainees should be allowed to bring habeas actions in federal courts. He may change that opinion before issuing a decision, but it's equally possible we're in for another Boumediene-like judicial creation of law.

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posted by DrewM. at 12:16 PM

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