President Obama yesterday formalized indefinite detention for dozens of men held at Guantanamo Bay and announced that the Pentagon would move ahead with military trials for a handful of other detainees.
In an executive order, which we first reported on in June 2009, the White House created a board to periodically review the dangerousness of prisoners being held without charge or trial. The order says the new process will allow detainees — some in custody for nearly a decade — to challenge the governments determination that they pose a threat if released.
While the order is new, most of the ideas it contains are not. This is the third time such a board has been created for nearly the same purpose. Two similar processes to review detainee cases were in place during the Bush administration. Like its predecessors, the Obama administration’s review process will operate outside the courts and will be subject to no independent review. Also like the Bush White House, the Obama administration alone will choose all members of the review board and appoint a “personal representative” to advocate on behalf of the detainees.