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.