If I had to pick a single issue

There were many, many reasons I had for supporting Obama. He intends to pursue universal healthcare. He is far more likely to appoint liberal justices to the Supreme Court, where liberalism matters most (in my estimation). His opponent chose an intellectually incurious religious fundamentalist as a running mate, and I think the country has had quite enough of that for a while. But if there was one thing that motivated my phone calls, wore out my shoe leather, and prompted my contributions and vote, it was the restoration of civil liberties, and the recognition that the President does not have carte blanche to do whatever he wants under the guise of a war on terror, or anything else. Obama made a campaign pledge to, for example, restore habeas corpus rights to those detained in said war on terror, and I fully expect to see it happen.

So I will be paying close, close attention to this:

Just a month after President-elect Barack Obama takes office, he must tell the Supreme Court where he stands on one of the most aggressive legal claims made by the Bush administration — that the president may order the military to seize legal residents of the United States and hold them indefinitely without charging them with a crime.
Let me make this clear. He may not. Period. There are probably as many definitions of what "America" is as there are Americans, but if there is one thing that defines what America should stand for, it is that we are not a country wherein anyone (anyone) can be thrown into prison indefinitely without legal recourse.

During the campaign, Mr. Obama made broad statements criticizing the Bush administration’s assertions of executive power. But now he must address a specific case, that of Ali al-Marri, a Qatari student who was arrested in Peoria, Ill., in December 2001. The Bush administration says Mr. Marri is a sleeper agent for Al Qaeda, and it is holding him without charges at the Navy brig in Charleston, S.C. He is the only person currently held as an enemy combatant on the mainland, but the legal principles established in his case are likely to affect the roughly 250 prisoners at Guantánamo.


The more serious accusations recounted in Mr. Rapp’s statement are attributed partly to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who is believed to be the chief architect of the Sept. 11 attacks and who was captured in early 2003. The Central Intelligence Agency has said Mr. Mohammed was subjected to waterboarding, and information obtained from him may therefore not be admissible in court. Mr. McCarthy, the former prosecutor, said he hoped the new administration is sifting through its options with exceptional care.

Well, Mr. McCarthy, I concur. I, too, hope that exceptional care is exercised when determing what should be done with Mr. Marri. I don't harbor many illusions that he is anything other than a dangerous man that should be incarcerated. Doubtless that would be the outcome of an appropriate trial, or it would have been if the administration hadn't [insert obscenity here] the [noun] by obtaining its evidence through torture.

I have hopes that Obama's excellent mind, and his recourse to the best legal thinking in the country, will yield an outcome that is consonant both with American civil liberties and American security. It had better. If I am any kind of single-issue voter, then this is my issue, and it will mean the end of my support if it does not.

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