Detention: Law of

Peter King on the Executive Order

By Benjamin Wittes
Tuesday, March 8, 2011, 10:46 AM

Rep. Peter King, Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, has been taking a beating for his planned hearing on radicalization in the Muslim-American community--and that is probably not unjust. Don't miss, however, the statement he issued yesterday on the President's Executive Order: “I commend the Obama Administration for issuing this Executive Order. The bottom line is that it affirms the Bush Administration policy that our government has the right to detain dangerous terrorists until the cessation of hostilities. This is clearly another step in the right direction.”

I don't know how many congressional Republicans agree with King--as I do--that this move is a step in the right direction. But those, like King, who support the policy the President has adopted have an obvious course they could take beyond issuing statements. They could introduce legislation to codify the policy the Executive Order represents. While they're at it, they could revisit some of the onerous restrictions on transfers that would make it impossible to effectuate transfer decisions that might result from this step in the right direction. There is a huge role to play here for members of Congress who want to play a constructive role.