Timothy Sandefur has an excellent piece on Obama’s executive order to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.
Change™, it is a comin. Sorta. Maybe. OK, maybe not….
Just to be clear: I believe the Guantanamo Bay camp to be totally unconstitutional, and the length of the detention of some of the prisoners there to be absolutely unjustifiable. I think the camp should be closed—and I simultaneously recognize that this is not something that can be done overnight, and should not be done overhastily, given the national security consequences. But realism (a quality notably lacking in some of Obama’s fans) requires us to keep in mind that this order takes only the most meager step, if that, toward actually addressing the constitutional concerns related to indefinite detentions without trial. It does not end indefinite detentions, and it does not require trials. It does not provide counsel, and it does not provide enforceable rights. It does not set meaningful deadlines, and it does not provide oversight. It is subject to no checks and balances, and it provides no enforcement mechanism. It can hardly be said to do anything at all, so far.