Scott Horton Interviews Jonathan Hafetz

Scott Horton, April 21, 2010

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ACLU attorney Jonathan Hafetz discusses the McCain-Lieberman bill‘s potential to replace the US justice system with arbitrary and indefinite military detention, Obama’s confirmed policy of extrajudicial assassination of suspected American terrorists, illegal government actions shielded by invocations of national security and sovereign immunity and how the Bill of Rights degenerated from a guarantee of individual liberty to a conditional permission slip subject to the whims of government.

MP3 here. (30:23)

Jonathan Hafetz is an attorney with the National Security Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. He was counsel of record in Al-Marri v. Spagone, a landmark case challenging the indefinite military detention of a lawful resident alien arrested in the United States. Mr. Hafetz was also lead counsel in Jawad v. Obama, a habeas corpus challenge that secured the release of Afghan youth Mohammed Jawad from illegal detention at Guantánamo. He was co-counsel in Munaf v. Geren a case involving the detention of two U.S. citizens in Iraq decided by the Supreme Court in 2008.

In addition, Mr. Hafetz has helped coordinate the Guantánamo detainee habeas corpus litigation since its earliest stages and has testified before Congress on habeas corpus and detainee rights. He also serves as frequent commentator on national security issues and his writings have appeared in numerous publications, including The Nation, The American Prospect, the Los Angeles Times, and The National Law Journal. Mr. Hafetz’s book, The Guantanamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison, Outside the Law (Mark Denbeaux, co-editor) was published by NYU Press in November 2009.

Mr. Hafetz previously served as Litigation Director for the Liberty and National Security Project of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. He also formerly served as a Gibbons Fellow in Public Interest and Constitutional Law at Gibbons, P.C., and as a law clerk to the Honorable Jed S. Rakoff, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and Sandra L. Lynch, U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

11 Responses to “Jonathan Hafetz”

  1. So according to Mr. Hafetz, what's good about Obama is that he's making an attempt to justify all the horrible things Bush did legally, thus giving things like torture, illegal detention, assassination, etc. a veneer of respectability. Isn't that a million times worse? With Bush, all those things seemed lawless and beyond the pale to the 75% of the country that didn't support him. Now, though, Obama is threatening to normalize these exact behaviors. At one point, Mr. Hafetz made it sound like if the current administration could somehow make these techniques fit into the law under the Constitution, the ACLU would be more than happy to support their use. There seems to be a two step process in this country: the Republicans are bald faced assholes who essentially say that might is right and that's that. The Dems then come along and say that this is for the good of everyone and that they're only doing this because they care. Either way, the actions are the same. Assassination is assassination, torture is torture, illegal detention is illegal detention. And I don't care how more nicely, intelligently or eloquently Obama coos it into my ear than Bush did.

  2. One more thing, there has been war like this, and it's been going on for over 25 years now. It's called the War on Drugs. It almost seems like the government got frustrated with their inability to get everything they wanted here because of insurmountable legal protections for citizens. So they're trying the end around, bringing it from the outside in. Posse comitatus doesn't apply in Afghanistan.

  3. That may be true, but I do believe that he wants legality, an acceptance of executive orders as being protected by current interpretation of existing law.

  4. Paul,
    My response to the interview was exactly like yours. The way he considers the constitution and bill of rights is also interesting — the living parts are the parts we didn't like, the cast in stone parts are the parts we do.

    As usual, Scott did a good interview which will hopefully get some of the left to consider things in a more consistent fashion. I know that is what he helped me with when I was coming to terms with just how wrong these stupid wars were.

  5. It's my impression that the last thing O wants is a law. He wants to be able to do it on executive order only, so that he can deny that he's doing it. (They're just awaiting resolution of their cases…)

  6. Thank you for your excellent analysis…!!

  7. Another Obama apologist…..They are everywhere
    Good interview Scott.

  8. Damn straight! Good points, Paul.

  9. Every despotic regime comes to power in the same way. Under what appears to be a legal process, concentrates power in fewer and individuals until it becomes a dictatorship. That is exactly what has been happening in the US for the last generation. More and more power has been concentrated in a more and more corrupt executive branch.

    Hitler used what was called the "Enabling Legislation" as the final move to concentrate the power of the state into his hands only. This country will see our own version of "Enabling Laws" before this is all over. And this Congress, traitors as they are will be happy to give it to him.

  10. What interview were you guys listening to? This guy wasn't apologizing for Obama at all, except to say maybe he's just "weak" and not "evil." It's interesting that on some of the 2nd Amendment sites that hate Obama, people call the ACLU an enemy who is part of the liberal establishment taking away their rights. To me, the ACLU is one of the few half-way effective defenders of our rights.

  11. The McCain-LIEberman bill is a fascist piece of shit sponsored by two of the biggest bastards in the Parliament of Whores: Mad Bomber McInsane and Joe LIEberman (Zionist-Israel).

    Best regards to Jonathan Hafetz.

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