The Door Left Open

Jane Mayer reports on the Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri case and other detainees held by the U.S.:

Marri may exemplify what Greg Craig, Obama’s White House counsel, calls “the toughest question” facing the Administration as it tries to bring the Bush program within the rule of law: what to do with the so-called “third category” of detaineessuspects who may be difficult to convict under the American standards of justice, but who may pose a palpable threat if released.

Depending upon how many such “hard cases” exist, Craig says, the Administration will decide whether new laws, including possibly those enabling some sort of preventive detention, are necessary...  “It’s possible but hard to imagine Barack Obama as the first President of the United States to introduce a preventive-detention law,” Craig said. “Our presumption is that there is no need to create a whole new system. Our system is very capable.” Then again, the idea is not being ruled out, which may be surprising to some constituents, given Obama’s past support for civil liberties and Craig’s own recordin the early nineties, he served as the chairman of the board of the International Human Rights Law Group, an advocacy organization now known as Global Rights.

The British have set up a system of preventive detention and continue to debate in the open how many days it should last. As long as this is done in the light of day, and as long as Geneva protections are in place, I'm not implacably opposed to some sort of limited detention without charges. What many of us opposed was secret "disappearances", indefinite detention, and torture. There has to be a middle way between Bush's near-dictatorship and the pre-9/11 world.