Obama’s Actual Words on Indefinite Detention
On Thursday we flagged an Associated Press interview with President Obama in which he seemed to suggest that if he goes ahead with indefinite detentions for terrorism suspects, he wouldn't do it via an executive order and would instead ask for approval from Congress. ProPublica and the Washington Post reported in June that the White House was considering issuing such an executive order. So what did the president actually say? The original AP story paraphrased Obama and didn't include the full interview. Here's a full transcript of the interview, with the relevant section clipped below:
Q: You've talked about wanting to set up a legal framework for prolonged detention, which would be a pretty big sea [change] in this country's jurisprudence. As a constitutional scholar, expert, does it give you any pause to have, as your legacy, this kind of legalized limbo?
Obama: It gives me huge pause, and that's why we're going to proceed very carefully on this front. And it may turn out that after looking at all the dimensions of this, that I don't feel comfortable with the proposals that surface in how to deal with this issue
Q: If you can't get legislation through Congress to establish some kind of framework, will you do it by executive order?
Obama: I am not comfortable with doing something this significant through executive order. I think it is very important that the American people and Congress, in conjunction with my administration, come up with a structure that is not only legitimate in the eyes of our constitutional traditions, but also in the eyes of the international community, because part of our task in defeating these extremists is winning over allies and populations that right now feel as if we haven't been living up to our highest ideals.