Senate Democrats (according to The Hill):
Senate Democrats softened their position Thursday on relocating suspected terrorists to U.S. soil, saying they would consider President Obama’s call to house them at maximum-security prisons when the administration shuts down the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
The president’s speech on national security thawed firm opposition from earlier in the week, when the conference voted overwhelmingly to freeze funding needed to close the military prison.
Washington Post editorial:
"WE ARE indeed at war with al-Qaeda and its affiliates. We do need to update our institutions to deal with this threat. But we must do so with an abiding confidence in the rule of law and due process, in checks and balances and accountability."
This lucid declarationby President Obama yesterday perfectly outlined the challenges facing a nation battling a violent, nonstate enemy. By framing the matter in the context of war, Mr. Obama correctly acknowledged the limitations of traditional law enforcement tools and venues to contain and bring to justice those who would harm the United States. Yet he repudiated what he called the Bush administration's "ad hoc," the-ends-justify-the-means approach and spoke eloquently about the need to craft legitimate and effective legal structures that give meaningful rights to the accused while protecting the country's national security interests.
Mr. Obama spoke in greatest detail about his plans for dealing with the 240 detainees held at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Batting aside the fear-mongering of lawmakers who this week withheld funds to close the detention center, Mr. Obama made clear that any detainees brought to the United States would be held in the highest-security prisons -- from which no inmate has ever escaped. Those who can be prosecuted in federal court, Mr. Obama said, will be tried there. Those who are accused of violating the laws of war will be tried before military commissions that Mr. Obama has vowed to revamp with extra legal protections for defendants. In perhaps the most controversial proposal -- but one that the president is right to consider -- Mr. Obama said that he would work with Congress to craft a legal regime to provide for the detention of suspects who are deemed too dangerous for release but against whom there is not enough admissible evidence to bring formal charges.
Mr. Obama is criticized for both sides of his equation. ... Mr. Obama's wisdom lies in accepting the reality of war but insisting that it can be fought in fidelity to U.S. values. Yesterday, he spelled out the crucial difference. "I want to be very clear that our goal is to construct a legitimate legal framework for the remaining Guantanamo detainees that cannot be transferred," he said. "Our goal is not to avoid a legitimate legal framework."
NY Times editorial:
For seven years, President George W. Bush tried to frighten the American public — and successfully cowed Congress — with bullying and disinformation. On Thursday, President Obama told the truth. It was a moment of political courage that will make this country safer.
Mr. Obama was exactly right when he said Americans do not have to choose between security and their democratic values. By denying those values, the Bush team fed the furies of anti-Americanism, strengthened our enemies and made the nation more vulnerable.
Such clarity of thought is unlikely to end the partisan posturing. It certainly didn’t quiet former Vice President Dick Cheney, who was fear-mongering in full force on Thursday. But we hope that lawmakers who voted this week against closing the prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — starting with the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid — were listening closely.
We do not agree with every aspect of Mr. Obama’s solutions, especially his opposition to the court-ordered release of photographs of prisoner abuse and the positions he has taken on state secrets. But the course he outlined was generally based on due process and democratic governance.
Mr. Obama flatly rejected Mr. Cheney’s claims that torture saved “hundreds of thousands” of lives and reminded Americans that those abuses were ineffective, recruited more terrorists than they brought to justice, destroyed the nation’s image and will make it much harder to try some of the most dangerous terrorists.
Affirming that a detention policy has to be based on law and subject to Congressional and judicial scrutiny, Mr. Obama voiced the profound truth that eluded Mr. Bush, “In our constitutional system, prolonged detention should not be the decision of any one man.”