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In a half-dozen national security lawsuits we’ve been following, the Obama administration has so far largely stuck by the positions taken by the Bush administration. (The one significant exception has been the recent decision to file criminal charges against the only remaining U.S.-based “enemy combatant.”)
These decisions may be a temporary fix that will buy the administration time to think through its views. Or, it could indicate that the new administration simply doesn’t want to be squeezed into making policy in the court room.
One of the examples offered by ProPublica, which offers a handy chart of the relevant cases:
The Bush position on the habeas petition of four Bagram Air Base detainees:
Four detainees at the prison in Afghanistan asked a federal judge to determine whether they have the right to challenge their detention in a civilian court, like their counterparts at Guantanamo Bay. The judge gave the new administration an extra month to decide whether it would back the Bush administration’s argument for dismissing the case.
The Obama position:
Obama administration lawyers replied last Friday: “Having considered the matter, the Government adheres to its previously articulated position.” That position includes the concept of a global battlefield that would allow indefinite detention of prisoners like the petitioners, who say they were picked up outside Afghanistan, far from any traditional battlefield.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands they’d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members — because ocean life pays better than money! — who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Number of people stopped and frisked by the NYPD in 2011 for “furtive movements”:
The faces of Lego people were growing angrier.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature