Feingold calls Obama Out on Indefinite Detention, Sets Hearings

Sen, Russ Feingold, like many of us, isn't please with President Obama's "prolonged detention," which sounds eerily like Bush's old detention policies, and is planning on having hearings.

From DKos' fflambeau:

In a three-page letter dated May 22, 2009, Senator Russell Feingold of Wisconsin politely but firmly drew lines in the sand with President Obama on the issues of military commissions and indefinite detention. Importantly, Feingold called indefinite detention "likely unconstitutional." Feingold, who Chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, also gave the Obama administration notice that his subcommittee will hold June hearings on these issues and asked the administration to "make a top official or officials from the Department of Justice available to testify." Feingold recognized that Obama's views are not fully formed on these issues but "it is important to begin this discussion immediately, before you reach a final decision." I applaud Senator Feingold's actions and believe that his subcommittee hearings will be much better than the Whitehouse subcommittee hearings were simply because Feingold will be the Chair.
Dear Mr. President:

I am writing to convey my appreciation for your speech of May 21 on security and values, but also to express several concerns, particularly about your intention to design a system for what you called "prolonged detention."

On many fronts, your speech confirmed your commitment to defending our country while reversing the previous administration's numerous attacks on the rule of law. I was particularly pleased by your forceful rejection of torture, an issue on which you have backed up your campaign rhetoric with sustained action, beginning on your second day in office. I also welcome your acknowledgment that the state secrets privilege has been overused, as well as your commitment to reform. As you know, the Senate Judiciary Committee is currently considering legislation on this matter, which I hope your administration will now support. I also look forward to briefings on your administration's use of the privilege thus far, in keeping with your commitment to "voluntarily report to Congress when we have invoked the privilege and why."

In addition to these substantive matters, I was encouraged by your stated commitment to working with the judiciary and Congress as co-equal branches of government on issues of national security. This respect for our constitutional system stands in strong contrast to the approach of the previous administration. In light of the principles you have put forth, I look forward to full and open discussions between your administration and Congress on policy and legal matters. I also welcome your stated appreciation for congressional oversight and for the need for Congress to have full access to classified programs and information. As you know, the previous administration established numerous obstacles to effective oversight and I welcome your commitment to tearing down what remains of those obstacles.
read full letter...

TPM's Brian Beutler has more:
After Barack Obama wrapped up his big security and civil liberties speech last week, Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI) issued a strong statement of support for the President in which he drew a stark contrast between the new administration and the previous one.

But Feingold was either holding fire, or the words he'd just heard hadn't settled in immediately. Because by the end of the week, a reservation had emerged...


Obama now seeks, as Feingold describes it, a statutory basis for indefinite preventive detention, but as Glenn Greenwald reminds us, his own counsel, Greg Craig, said "It's possible but hard to imagine Barack Obama as the first President of the United States to introduce a preventive-detention law," just three months ago.

Feingold is a member of the Judiciary, Foreign Relations, and Intelligence committees, which gives him a unique perspective on issues at the nexis of civil liberties and national security. He was also an Obama supporter during the Democratic primary, which makes this emblematic of the growing rift between the President and civil libertarians. Let's see how Obama responds.

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