Constitution Project Decries Consideration of Preventive Detention by the Obama Administration

Undermines restoration of the rule of law that President Obama has pledged

CONTACT: Matthew Allee, (202) 580-6922 or

WASHINGTON – Recent news accounts indicate that the Obama administration is considering issuing an executive order that would establish a policy of indefinite detention without charge for some of the suspected terrorists being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, where more than 200 men are still being detained. In his speech on national security matters in May, President Obama spoke of the need to create a system of “prolonged detention” for a category of detainees who cannot be tried and are too dangerous to release. The Constitution Project rejects this premise and urges the administration not to follow this course.

The following can be attributed to Sharon Bradford Franklin, Senior Counsel at the Constitution Project:

“President Obama has often proclaimed his commitment to our nation’s constitutional principles and a restoration of the rule of law. But, if his administration moves forward with a policy of preventive detention, as recent news accounts indicate it is considering, he will have failed to live up to his soaring rhetoric. Whether authorized by executive order or legislation, indefinite detention without charge or trial runs counter to the fundamental principles of our system of justice.

“Our federal courts have proven their capacity to handle the most difficult cases involving charges of terrorism and highly sensitive national security intelligence. The Obama administration should embrace this tradition and allow judges to do the job they have been assigned by our Constitution. It should refuse to legalize a system of indefinite detention, through either executive order or legislation, and should instead prosecute suspected terrorists within our civilian courts. Only that approach to closing Guantanamo will allow for the full restoration of the rule of law our nation badly needs.”

The Constitution Project’s Liberty and Security Committee released a report, “A Critique of ‘National Security Courts,’” objecting to the policy of indefinite or preventive detention without charge. The report was signed by a broad bipartisan coalition of over thirty-five political leaders, national security experts, and legal scholars, and was updated in March to include endorsements from additional former federal judges and prosecutors, and from supporting organizations.

Click here to see the report, go to:

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