In 2007, Rahm Opposed Indefinite Detention

On June 29, 2007, Congressman Norm Dicks sent George Bush an eloquent letter urging him to close Gitmo. It said, among other things,

Since the time that captured “enemy combatants” were first brought to Guantanamo Bay in 2002, the detainment facility has undermined America’s image as the model of justice and protector of human rights around the world. Holding prisoners for an indefinite period of time, without charging them with a crime goes against our values, ideals and principles as a nation governed by the rule of law. Further, Guantanamo Bay has become a liability in the broader global war on terror, as allegations of torture, the indefinite detention of innocent men, and international objections to the treatment of enemy combatants has hurt our credibility as the beacon for freedom and justice. Its continued operation also threatens the safety of U.S. citizens and military personnel detained abroad.


The closure of the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay would represent a positive first step toward restoring our international reputation as the leader of democracy and individual rights. [my emphasis]

Guess whose signature appears right at the top of the long list of those who signed this letter?

Then-Congressman Rahm Emanuel.

I wonder what changed between the time when Rahm recognized how unacceptable indefinite detention is and his willingness now, in cahoots with Lindsey Graham, to set up a system of indefinite detention? Heck, this Rahm has even called closing Gitmo a distraction.

Would I be foolish to ask for that other Rahm back?

42 replies
  1. Mary says:

    I think that you should request that President Obama declare Rahm to be an unlawful enemy combatant and send him off into indefinite detention, under the observation of an appropriate psychologist who can test and interrogate him to see which Hanni Rahmi is the real Rahmi.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Rahm is a blue-blooded Republican when it comes to being proud of his hypocrisy, his ready change of opinions with changes in the political wind or changes in who sits in the seats of power. He’s a predator and writes such things off to being “pragmatic”, which means doing whatever it takes to get whatever he wants. Knowing citizens don’t elect such men to high public office, they put them behind bars when they inevitably break the law.

    I do hope that however long the weak and principle-less Barack Obama keeps him in appointed office, we have seen the last of Mr. Emanuel as an elected official, except perhaps as a district reperesenative for some poor ward in South Chicago.

  3. Chris Dietrich says:

    I think that, if he’s not sure how he’s going to feel about something in the future, he should practice a signature that’s more difficult to read in that future.

  4. kevincharlottenc says:

    I don’t see your problem with this. It proves that Rahm is good at politics. He signed his name to a partisan letter, demanding the Bush Regime stop indefinite detention, he put his name on something- backing his side. Something y’all need to learn how to do. Whether he believes in indefinite detention personally in his head, makes no difference at this point. HE IS NOT THE DECISION MAKER. He does what he’s told. So he is working with Graham on something his boss, Mr Obama, has tasked him with. Understand?

    Why do you constantly tear down the Obama WH? Why? The TEA klux klan and the right-wing terrorists are rubbing their hands. There is nothing hypocritical- he supported something when it was his call, when he could have an opinion- and now he works for something he may not believe in, because he’s doing what his boss wants. Have you ever even seen the polls about how the America people feel about the detainees? What’s the latest percentage who say “let them go!” ?
    I’m sure a majority of people on this blog, and MoveOn think we should let them go. Only to attack us again. I don’t think we should detain them forever, no, they should stand trial (here we go again) BUT the president has to consider what the vast majority of the public wants, even if he (and you)wants otherwise. And Rahm has NO SAY one way or the other. Does this not make sense???

    • bmaz says:

      Well, that is freaking brilliant; let’s just turn over the rule of law to kevinincharlottenc and the lynchmob public. Yes, that is what our country has always been based on. Simply brilliant.

    • NorskeFlamethrower says:

      Citizen kevincharlottenc:

      I don’t know where you get yer understandin’ of how Rahm plays politics or to whom he owes fielty but I would like to inform you that Rahm never does anything politically in support of any side which is not his own at the moment. Rahm plays politics like George Bush thinks – badly! In fact there is not anything that Rahm has been involved with politically that hasn’t turned to shit the moment he got involved. Go back to 1994 and the first Clinton administration….NAFTA, welfare reform, tax hikes and leavin’ the Democrats out to dry in the off-year election. Rahm has never been involved in anything that ended well…even for whomever he was playin for…which in most cases is the neo-con American Likud.

    • Rayne says:

      A refresher is called for:

      Fourth Amendment:
      The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

      Fifth Amendment:
      No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

      Sixth Amendment:
      In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

      Mr. Emanuel, as an elected member of Congress, understood that indefinite detention without charges, without a trial, and without speed or redress would violate at least these three Constitutional Amendments.

      The point of this post is that Mr. Emanuel, as White House Chief of Staff, has now forgotten the unConstitutionality of indefinite detention.

      What changed?

      And why should it matter at all who is in the White House? Shouldn’t the Constitution remain constant no matter who the current occupant may be? Why do you feel that we as American citizens should not hold all elected officials, regardless of their party affiliation to the standard of Constitutional behavior?

      Further, the Constitution is not an outline of citizens’ rights, but boundaries on government’s ability to act. Why shouldn’t we as citizens demand those limits be firm, lest the boundaries evaporate altogether without notice?

      • bmaz says:

        As long as you are not discussing American citizens and keep it to non-citizens who are not captured or held on American soil, you can make out a distinction. However, fairly analogous provisions under international law still apply even to them.

        • Rayne says:

          You and I know they are fuzzing the line all the time as to American soil — the whole of Gitmo is one such example, what with the U.S. actively avoiding ownership of the site. It’s all blatantly obstructionist.

          And the Constitutional amendments cited don’t actually spell out citizen or non-citizen; as I said, the Constitution defines the limits of our government, and those limits don’t have borders. Unless, of course, as one example we should take a Yoo-ish stance and believe that the executive office has unlimited powers on any soil outside the U.S. — uh-huh.

          International law applies to all regardless of citizenship, provided we are signatories; in the case of the UN Declaration of Human Rights ca. 1948, we were a co-drafter and adopted it by proclamation. Yet we ignore it all the time, right along with the UNCAT and the Geneva Convention.

          • bmaz says:

            Actually, I think the Court has been marginally consistent on that if you look backward from Rasul toward Eisentrager. The only arguable exception was in Rasul and that was narrowly tailored to Habeas rights only, not Constitutional protections or the Constitution itself (which were specifically excluded).

            • Mary says:

              I don’t think you can generalize on the rights of citizens v. boundaries of government point earlier.

              In some places government is bounded, in some places citizens on American soil have rights that they may not have on non-US soil or that non-citizens may not have.

              I don’t see Rashul as an aberation bc the issue of US control was very different in WWII – but that’s a long and by the bye discussion. Still, the question of what are the limits on gov authority v what are the peculiar rights of citizens have different answers imo.

    • Mary says:

      I’m sure a majority of people on this blog, and MoveOn think we should let them go. Only to attack us again.

      So well typed for a toddler.

  5. NorskeFlamethrower says:


    Citizen emptywheel and the Firepup Freedom Fighters:

    I wonder just how happy Obama is about gettin’ Rahm in the White House…everything he touches turns to shit. Rahm musta been Hilary’s quid for accepting the quo of SoS. But seriously, isn’t it becoming clear that in terms of the politics of war and terror, Rahm is Likud’s representative in the White House and our Secretary of State is dancin’ ta the same damned tune?


    • masslib says:

      Oh please. It’s Rham’s fault. It’s Hillary’s fault. Blah, blah, blah. What a pile of manure. Bill Clinton DEMOTED Emanuel at the behest of Hillary. Emanuel and Obama are both part of Daley’s political machine, Why on earth would you draw a line between Hillary and Emanuel? I’m guessing because you are one of the Obama backers who thought he was some huge liberal.

      “But seriously, isn’t it becoming clear that in terms of the politics of war and terror, Rahm is Likud’s representative in the White House and our Secretary of State is dancin’ ta the same damned tune?” LOL, uh, no.

      • NorskeFlamethrower says:

        Citizen masslib:

        Strap it up Citizen ‘cuz you got in-comin’ to yer perimeter. Bill Clinton “demoted” Rahm to get ‘im the fuck outta the way ‘cuz he was drawin way too much fire and Slick Willy needed ta get a good deal of separation from his hitman. As for Hilary orderin’ Rahm’s removal, get serious, she wanned ‘im under the bed but NOT outta the bedroom. Anyone who thinks that Hilary was the brains of the outfit and the “conscience” of the White House has been drinkin’ too much Arkansas KoolAide or sufferin from a bad case of “cognitive infiltration”. As for bein an Obama supporter instead of backin Mrs. McClinton yeah I was because I believed his rhetoric and he was only a suspected liar and phony not a proven duplicitous douchbag.

        Obama sits in the seat where all the heat stops but not the bucks…we all know where the bucks go and who in this administration is sendin’ the bucks where… those people are all Clintonista liars and con artists.

        I have have enough self awareness to acknowlege when I been lied to and fuck me once shame you but you ain’t gunna get a chance to fuck me again.

        So wherever ya go take a little Norwegian advice my Gampa Ole used ta say: “Don’t fuck with the bull or you’ll get the horns.”

        • masslib says:

          I never argued “Hilary was the brains of the outfit and the “conscience” of the White House”, only that she sought his demotion. She didn’t like him. No love lost, capice? And, I find it funny, hysterical actually, that you see two Daley machine products and you leap to some nonsense about Hillary. It’s funny. I don’t like Rahm, but I sure as hell know that while a scapegoat always feels warm and fuzzy, Rahm works for his boss, not the other way around.

  6. lakezoarian says:

    To #6- you talking about Hani Hanjour who couldn’t even fly a cessna yet is supposed to have been able to execute the extreme manouver with a heavy the radar operators in DC saw on 9/11? That never did add up for me, sorry it this is OT, but the fact that the indefinate imprisonment certainly does help to keep the secrets, if ya know what I mean…

  7. JohnLopresti says:

    I wonder if senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is working now toward infusing more UCMJ into the failed gtmo commissions for the immediate accomplices, as a barter for his vote to shutter. Graham had been involved in ucmj due process fora until a ucmj court refused his offer to serve in 2005 after the usual due diligence for conflicts in a low profile case. Historically, in November 2005 he was working to draft law to restrict access to mainland courts for detainees from gtmo.

  8. Skellen says:

    What makes you think that that’s Rahm’s opinon? I wouldn’t be surprised if his POV changes depending on who he has for a boss.

  9. fatster says:

    Having one in the WH definitely has its perks:

    Rahm Emanuel’s brother lobbies for ‘three strikes’ law against downloaders

    [The three-strikes law in France only requires you to be accused three times!]


    • eCAHNomics says:

      Thanks for the link. That was what I was referring to in my 16, but I couldn’t find the post.

  10. Synoia says:

    So Rahm was against it before he was for it?

    And after he’s for it he’ll be against it again?

  11. disputo says:

    “Would I be foolish to ask for that other Rahm back? ”

    Yes, you would — both of them have to go.

  12. PPDCUS says:

    Dr. Rahmstus

    Would I be foolish to ask for that other Rahm back?

    Yes, but not because he was different then as a member of the house, than today as WH chief of staff. It’s because this guy will say anything, do anything, cut anyone’s throat for political expediency.

    He’s the same win at any cost hack that we’ve all come to loathe since the Clinton administration.

    The good news: at least we know who holds the marker on his soul.

    • PJEvans says:

      Do we? Because I’m not sure that we do. The best hacks and moles can make you think they’re working for someone else.

  13. orionATL says:

    my general view is that president obama is responsible for
    the actions of his chief-of-staff.

    but to understand emanuel’s behavior, you need to look at his family.

    of course, we do this kind of “analysis” every day with our family, friends, colleagues, neighbors.

    but when it comes to high-level politicians, psychological “analysis” is dismissed as inappropriate, or trivial.

    on what basis?

    my view is that what holds for me, my family, my friends, my colleagues,

    holds also for other humans, even powerful humans.

    mine and my wife’s experience living in other cultures and our long experience hosting members of other cultures here in our country, confirm me in this view.

    all that is a prelude to saying, go look at rahm emanuel’s background. his father, a physician i believe, was said to be a member of an israeli right-wing organization associated in its early days with terrorism.

    whether pop was a later-day member or not i don’t know,

    but i do “know” that agressive personalities are common in extreme politics, e.g.,hot-tub tom delay.

    rham emanuel’s premier personal characteristic (publicly) is his agressiveness.

    most of us would say: “like father, like son”, or some similar aphorism.

    and then there is the matter of the good judgement of aggressive individuals who express themselves through politics.

  14. qweryous says:


    “Afghanistan law secretly forgave war crimes, human rights abuses”

    Reuters Tuesday, March 16th 2010, 10:57 AM

    Via Raw story- but their link didn’t work for me- I found it elsewhere. LINK:


    “Afghanistan confirmed for the first time publicly on Tuesday that it had enacted into law a blanket pardon for war crimes and human rights abuse carried out before 2001.
    Human rights groups have expressed dismay that the law appeared to have been enacted quietly, granting blanket immunity to members of all armed factions for acts committed during decades of war before the fall of the Taliban.”

    And this detail jumped out from the same link:

    “Brad Adams, Asia director for watchdog Human Rights Watch, said there was still mystery surrounding the process, and why it apparently took more than two years for news of the law’s enactment to be made public.”

    Now where did they get the idea to do something like that?

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