According to the New York Times, President Obama misunderstands the legal status of detainees:
The president went on to say that “we don’t torture” and that “we ultimately provide anybody that we’re detaining an opportunity through habeas corpus to answer to charges.”
Aides later said Mr. Obama did not mean to suggest that everybody held by American forces would be granted habeas corpus or the right to challenge their detention. In a court filing last month, the Obama administration agreed with the Bush administration position that 600 prisoners in a cavernous prison on the American air base at Bagram in Afghanistan have no right to seek their release in court.
Instead, aides said Mr. Obama’s comment referred only to a Supreme Court decision last year finding that prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have the right to go to federal court to challenge their continued detention.
(Via the Corner.)
Ah, it’s good that his aides were available to explain that he didn’t mean what he very clearly said. Otherwise, you might interpret “anybody that we’re detaining” to mean anybody that we’re detaining.
I’m certain that President Obama is aware of the facts at some level, but this exchange makes clear that they haven’t fully penetrated his thinking. They don’t come to mind when he is speaking off the cuff. Now that he is president, this kind of semi-informed thinking is dangerous.
I’m glad that President Obama has continued most elements of the Global War on Terror, but this makes you wonder if that’s just because he has not been paying much attention.
UPDATE: More evidence that President Obama has simply not been paying attention.