Obama Admin Claws Back Exec Power

By Marc Ambinder

Congress's 2001 resolution authorizing military force against Al Qaeda and the Taliban grants the President power to detain prisoners currently held at Guantanamo Bay, Attorney General Eric Holder said today, stripping away claims by the Bush Administration that the president's exexutive authority inherently provided for such detentions.

Bates Revised Det Auth FINAL.pdf

Holder's assertions, contained in a federal court filing, drops the phrase phrase "enemy combatant" from the government's lexicon and stresses that the detention authority is only limited to the current conflict. 

The Justice Department told the court that the new standard is subject to an almost certain future revision and does not include the authority to continue to hold prisoners unless they provided "significant and substantial" support to Al Qaeda or the Taliban; those who provided "insignificant and insubstantial" support, the government implied today, might soon be freed. The government admits that it is no closer to having a definition of what "significant" or "substanatial" support actually entails, and the filing does not say what type of evidence the government would rely on in making the determination. 

The Obama administration was responding to a March 13 deadline ordering them to provide a legal justification for continuing to hold detainees at Guantanmo. 

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This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2009/03/obama-admin-claws-back-exec-power/1510/