In all the excitement last week about primaries, contraception, racist e-mails and the Big Ten men's basketball championship, the significance of a move by the Obama administration on the issue of detainee adjudication may have slipped under the radar. On Tuesday, via a fact sheet (PDF) and blog post, the administration further put operational flesh on the President's objections to sec. 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act the President signed into law in December. Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare says that the administration's interpretation of sec. 1022 has "read this law virtually out of existence." And in "Obama Asserts His Control Over Terrorism Detainee Rights," The Atlantic's Andrew Cohen argues that Tuesday's move marks a significant shift of authority over this issue from Congress back to the executive branch, concluding:
From precluding a civilian trial for Khalid Sheik Mohammed to blocking the Guantanamo Bay detainees from being transferred to the United States for trial to preventing the use of domestic prisons to house the detainees, Congress has persistently treated this White House as untrustworthy on terror law. This is so even as the president's drones kill Al Qaeda operatives and our Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden. Now that the White House has told Congress where it can shove its Section 1022, it will be interesting to see this election year whether and to what extent Congress decides to shove back.
Photo: "Tents where visiting lawyers, human rights observers, and reporters were to stay when watching or participating in the Military Commissions." Wikipedia