The Wittes Preventative Detention Proposal

More

The influential constitutional and national security thinker Benjamin Wittes has found a solution to the conundrum that is vexing the Obama administration's task force on detention policy: how does the United States simultaneously provide dangerous, non-triable detainees with due process rights and keep them, well, detained until (if ever) rehabilitated. 

In essence, Wittes proposes to give the president authority to detain terrorists or enemy combatants for, first, 14 days, and then, with the approval of a specially-designated judge, for six months; every six months, the administration would have to re-apply for the authority. As Wittes concedes to NPR's Ari Shapiro, people could be locked up indefinitely -- but only with the concurrence of a separate branch of government. 


My question -- Congress has more constitutional authority over the disposition of detainees than the judiciary, and the administration, even having shifted the legal underpinning for the Guantanamo Detainees to Congress's 2002 Afghanistan force authorization, has never specifically denied itself the right to detain people under its own authority. This compromise would give the judiciary veto power over an action that I believe the administration believes to be a function that the constitution designed to be split between the executive and legislative branches. 

When Wittes releases his formal proposal, I'll pass it along. My guess is that it will be weekend reading for a bevy of senior administration officials. 
Jump to comments
Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

In a series of candid video interviews, women talk about self-image, self-judgment, and what it means to love their bodies


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In