Ending Indefinite Detention Is AlterNet's Top Take Action Campaign of the Week
Perhaps attempting to quash rumors that he would use an executive order to continue Bush-era detention policies, President Barack Obama last Thursday told the Associated Press that he would consult Congress before making any decisions on the issue.
"It is very important that the American people and Congress, in conjunction with my administration, come up with a structure that is not only legitimate in the eyes of our constitutional traditions, but also in the eyes of the international community," he said.
Indefinite detention is "one of the biggest challenges of my administration," he added. "It gives me huge pause."
His hesitancy to plow ahead unilaterally with legislation that would deny legal rights to "enemy combatants" is encouraging, but it also raises questions about where the issue might end up once it fades from the political limelight.
Obama has, after all, adopted a troublingly contradictory attitude toward the constitutional rights of prisoners. Earlier this year, in the midst of a well-publicized campaign to shut down the prison at Guantanamo Bay, he approved a $750 million expansion of Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan -- another preventative detention facility that operates outside any legal jurisdiction.
Equally controversial is Obama's refusal to pull indefinite detention from the bargaining table altogether, a move that has infuriated human-rights advocates.
"Any continued policies of prolonged detention without trial, of Guantanamo detainees, simply fails to turn the page on the counterproductive policy of the Bush administration," Human Rights First's Devon Chaffee told the Washington Independent. "We oppose any prolonged detention without trial beyond what is already authorized under the laws of war. If an individual committed acts of terrorism, they should be tried in our regular federal courts."
Obama has said the White House intends to "proceed very carefully on this front;" but his floundering rhetoric indicates just the opposite. It's time to let the administration know that it must put an end to George W. Bush's egregious violations. The White House must not continue to chip away at universal ideals of compassion.
Join thousands of others who are telling Obama that they oppose indefinite detention, whether through executive order or through congressionally approved legislation. You can do it here.
Here are the rest of our Take Action Campaigns for the week.
II -- Pressure Obama For A Public Option
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is among the many in support of a public health insurance option, and he has put together an organization designed to mobilize progressive support. Standwithdrdean.com allows citizens like you to urge policymakers to vote down any health-care legislation that doesn't include a public option.
Standing with Dean means joining nearly 400,000 others who refuse to wallow in the mires of "middle ground" politicking.
After all, Obama's "urge to compromise," Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman notes, "will lead him to negotiate with himself, and give away far too much." It's up to us to see that he doesn't.
III -- Tell Clinton to Halt Dirty Oil's Onslaught
Did you know that the dirtiest oil megaproject in years is in the midst of sneaking across our northern border?
Did you know that a huge chunk of this project -- the Alberta Clipper Pipeline -- is up for approval by the U.S. State Department?
Right now, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has the power to halt the Alberta tar sands, a project that harnesses one of the most environmentally damaging sources of energy known to man. Clinton can help America take a step toward a clean energy future, but it's up to us to remind her of that future's importance.
IV -- Stand up for the Marriage Rights of LGBT Couples
The right for gay, lesbian and transgender couples to marry has been codified in Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. The battle for this important civil rights issue continues to rage on in New Jersey, New York, California and Oregon, and many other states have begun to take auspicious steps.
We're gaining ground, but we must voice our support for this human right. Join thousands of others who have made marriage equality their fight. Be part of the right side of history.
V -- Ditch Bush's "Fill Rule" for Mountaintop-Removal Mining
The Obama administration has taken a progressive stance on ending mountaintop-removal coal mining, a process that devastates landscapes and endangers lives. With its recent commitment to diversifying Appalachian economies, the administration has begun to address an issue that has flown under the radar for years.
But if the necessary changes are to come about, we need to continue this momentum. Urge the Obama to not let up. Tell him to overturn Bush's ultra-destructive "fill rule," which wreaks havoc on Appalachian ecosystems. You can do it here.
VI -- Stand up for the Uighurs
For too long, the Chinese government has flagrantly violated the human rights of Uighurs, a Turkic, mainly Muslim, people who make up the majority of the population in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in northwest China.
Among other abuses, China has repeatedly blurred the line between its definitions of "activism" and "terrorism" to repress Uighurs. The country has also invoked "war on terror" rhetoric to justify cruel policies and tirelessly pursued censorship campaigns against Uighurs.
We need to let the Chinese know that their actions are unacceptable. Help send the message that their abuses must not continue.
VII -- Help Pass the DREAM Act
Every year, 65,000 young men and women -- star athletes, aspiring teachers, homecoming queens -- graduate high school only to run into problems. Because they were brought into the country illegally as babies or young children, they risk being barred from jobs and colleges.
These people have every right to reap all the benefits of the United States available to ordinary citizens. It's senseless for them to be penalized for a decades-old crime they didn't commit.
You can help: Though our immigration laws currently have no mechanism to consider the special equities and circumstances of students like these, the DREAM Act would eliminate this flaw. It's time to tell Congress that these people have every right to be here. Tell them to pass the DREAM Act today.
VIII -- Save Michigan's Water
On July 6, a court in Michigan was to determine whether Nestlé can continue pumping water from a nearby wildlife preserve at the rate of 400 gallons per minute. The case could have been decided in 2003, were it not for some clever legal maneuvering on the part of the food giant. Now, Michigan's citizens stand at a crucial juncture of water-rights legislation.
The case, according to Leslie Samuelrich of Corporate Accountability International, "underscores the importance of water resources remaining in public control and decisions about water being made locally and democratically ... water is too precious to hand over to Goliath."
IX -- Halt Funding for Fake Clinics
American taxpayers spend millions every year to fund so-called Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which are nothing but fake women's health clinics. Young women who enter these "clinics" are often subjected to misinformation and intimidation.
It's up to us to end this dreadful, dishonest trend in American health care. Tell your senators you don't want to keep funding clinics that deny women access to safe, legal medical services.
X -- Fix the Waxman-Markey Bill
So many Americans were caught up in the excitement of last week's passage of the Waxman-Markey bill, they failed to notice its faults. Polluted by special interests, the bill actually guts the EPA's authority to fight global warming.
Now, as the bill goes before the Senate, it's up to us to elicit change. We need to tell our progressive policymakers that we need a better draft -- one that can help us dam global warming's fierce assault before it's too late. By donating to Friends of the Earth, you can do your part.