By any measure, our system of trying detainees has been an enormous failure. Over the course of nearly seven years, there has not been a single conviction for a terrorist act at Guantanamo. There has been just one conviction for material support for terrorism. Meanwhile, this legal black hole has substantially set back America’s ability to lead the world against the threat of terrorism, and undermined our most basic values. Make no mistake: we are less safe because of the way George Bush has handled this.So he's talking about what he isn't saying I'd like him to be clear about what he is saying. He won't give them "full privileges," but what portion of privileges does he favor? (And why is he saying "privileges" and not "rights"?)
My approach is guided by a simple premise: I have confidence that our system of justice is strong enough to deal with terrorists; Senator McCain does not. That is not the same as giving these detainees the same full privileges as Americans citizens. I never said that, the Supreme Court never said that, and I would never do that as President of the United States. So either Senator McCain’s campaign doesn’t understand what the Court decided, or they are distorting my position.
I have made the same arguments as Republicans like Arlen Specter, countless Generals and national security experts, and the largely Republican-appointed Supreme Court of the United States of America – which is that we need not throw away 200 years of American jurisprudence while we fight terrorism.Ugh. Tricky rhetoric. We are having an argument about what American jurisprudence dictates. It's a difficult question, and the people who disagree with Obama — such as the dissenters in Boumediene — don't favor throwing out "American jurisprudence." (And why is he saying "American jurisprudence" and not "the Constitution"?)
We do not need to choose between our most deeply held values, and keeping this nation safe. That’s a false choice, and I completely reject it.Fine, but again, he is having an argument with people who are not proposing throwing away "deeply held values" for national security. He is defining and balancing these things differently from the way they do, and I wish he'd be more precise about what his plan is rather than simply asserting that he will be able to harmonize competing interests so that everything works out just fine.
Feel free to point me to more information on the precise subject. I spent some time reading the official Obama website looking for material on the detainees. It is not one of the topics on the "issues" menu, and I can't see a way to run a search for particular words.
UPDATE: I was just listening to the podcast of yesterday's Rush Limbaugh show, which played this statement from Obama:
Let's talk specifically about my statement around Guantanamo.Statement around Guantanamo? When I hear "around" used like that, I get nervous. Isn't it a signal that the speaker is going to be cagey?
The question is whether or not, as the Supreme Court said, people who are being held have a chance to at least suggest that, hey, you've got the wrong guy, or I shouldn't be here. It's not a question of whether or not they're freed. And the simple point that I was making, which I will continue to make throughout this campaign, is that we can abide by due process and abide by basic concepts of rule of law and still crack down on terrorists. The fact that you are allowing habeas does not necessitate that you are suddenly putting terrorists in a full US trial court. That's not... Those two things aren't equivalent.Again, he's saying what his position isn't and not what it is. But, then, he is saying "due process," which suggests that he's talking about constitutional rights. But he holds back from saying that the detainees would be treated to a full-scale criminal trial. The question, presumably, is: What process is due? What rights can they enforce? And he doesn't tell us. So allowing the detainees to petition for a writ of habeas corpus doesn't necessitate a full-scale criminal trial (sudden or not). Fine. True enough. It's not necessarily going to be that way, but is it?"Those two things aren't equivalent," yes, but habeas is the first step, so what do you think is the next step?
Here's how Rush Limbaugh reacts to that Obama statement:
Does anybody have any idea what he said there? Again, illustrating my point: Get this guy off the teleprompter or without some prepared notes, and he's wandering aimlessly for syllabic combinations that will equal a cogent, salient thought. I think the last thing that he said here is really what he was angling at trying to say. "Just because you're allowing habeas [corpus] doesn't necessitate that you're suddenly putting terrorists in a full US trial." Oh, it doesn't? Well, then why are we going to have to take them out of Club Gitmo, sir? And why are we going to have to bring them to the US court system and grant them lawyers? You don't think those lawyers are going to go straight to court? And when they go straight to court with habeas corpus, doesn't it mean, Senator, that they are presumed innocent?I'm inclined to say Rush is wrong, but I note that he's only asking a series of questions, so I can't. I'll have to say that, ironically, Rush is a bit like Obama, wandering aimlessly for syllabic combinations that will equal a cogent, salient thought. Both men mesmerize their listeners and move them along on a current of verbiage.
I suspect that Rush's asking those questions caused millions of listeners to believe that Obama wants all the detainees to have full-scale criminal trials. Now, I'd like to hear Obama clearly say what he does want — not what things don't necessarily mean and so forth — what he actually wants.