U.S. Supreme Court Denies Hearing “Indefinite Dentention” Legal Challenge
With the hyper-rhetoric in American politics today, it is often difficult to discern when an issue is as serious as it sounds. If you only watched cable news, you’d kind of know that the NSA can read everything we do online or something, but they can’t find that plane! Yet a recent decision by the Supreme Court to pass on a case involving a challenge to indefinite detention for terrorists has implications that reach far beyond spider-holes in Afghanistan.
According to Reuters, the decision to pass “handed a victory to President Barack Obama’s administration,” after a federal court judge in New York ruled that the law was unconstitutional. Later an appeals court overturned the ruling. Since the plaintiffs were U.S. citizens acting on behalf of non-U.S. citizens there wasn’t good legal standing for the case.
The plaintiffs were comprised of journalists, including Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hughes, who worry that the vague definitions involved can put them at risk for detention simply by doing their jobs.
Before 9/11, before the U.S.S. Cole, and before the embassy bombings of 1998, a number of journalists tracked down and interviewed Osama Bin Laden who was still a wanted terrorist but not the globally reviled figure he was at the time of his death. In a modern context, the journalists involved would be eligible for a one-way ticket to Guantanamo simply for quoting him.
By passing on hearing the case, the Court has passed on the opportunity for an examination of the constitutionality of the indefinite detention problem. There is no more perfect representation of the Obama administration than this issue.
Closing Guantanamo was the first thing newly-inaugurated President Obama did, a move that even he so much as admitted was the result of naiveté. Publicly, the President has continued to call for an end to the worst of the Bush Administration policies with respect to the terror fight. Yet, like with this case, their actions seem to be telling a much different story.