10:37 AM … Obama’s making a very powerful case for the familiar and powerful argument that setting aside our values to protect ourselves actually makes us less safe. Pulls in McCain, to make the point that both parties nominated candidates who opposed torture last year. Actually, takes a shot at journalists too for not doing their job in recent years.
10:40 AM … Again, referencing McCain.
10:41 AM … Here’s the transcript of the speech, as prepared for delivery.
10:43 AM … Obama: The existence of Guantanamo probably created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.
10::49 AM … Making the pretty straightforward case that no terrorist is going to escape from one of our supermax facilities. Enlists Lindsey Graham to make the point. Sort of sad that the point needs to be made because the underlying claim is so inane.
10:54 AM … Obama, from the prepared text, addressing claims he changed his position on military commissions …
The second category of cases involves detainees who violate the laws of war and are best tried through Military Commissions. Military commissions have a history in the United States dating back to George Washington and the Revolutionary War. They are an appropriate venue for trying detainees for violations of the laws of war. They allow for the protection of sensitive sources and methods of intelligence-gathering; for the safety and security of participants; and for the presentation of evidence gathered from the battlefield that cannot be effectively presented in federal Courts.
Now, some have suggested that this represents a reversal on my part. They are wrong. In 2006, I did strongly oppose legislation proposed by the Bush Administration and passed by the Congress because it failed to establish a legitimate legal framework, with the kind of meaningful due process and rights for the accused that could stand up on appeal. I did, however, support the use of military commissions to try detainees, provided there were several reforms. And those are the reforms that we are making.
Instead of using the flawed Commissions of the last seven years, my Administration is bringing our Commissions in line with the rule of law.
10:55 AM … Just as a sidelight, there seems to be a thought out there that it’s much better to find other countries to detain some of the Gitmo detainees. This is deeply silly. If these are people you really, really don’t want escaping you won’t send them to any other countries. You’ll incarcerate them in US prisons. The record in other countries, particularly in the Middle East, is not good at all.