Late Night: Guantanamo (To Music)

President Obama took a great step forward today for the detainees at Guantanamo, for the rule of law and for the restoration of America's image in the world.

Yes, there's more work to be done, specifically with ensuring that the secret renditions via Ghost Air to other countries whose personnel may engage in torture are not allowed in the future, that the definition of torture includes not just what is prohibited by regulations in the Army Field Manual but also comports in all respects with the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture, that the military tribunals be dismantled entirely following the review process and that no new national security or other court system is set up to try detainees (our federal criminal and military courts are up to the task).

It's amazing to hear some of the pundits on TV tonight criticize Obama's orders and suggest Gitmo should stay open. Perhaps they have forgotten or never seen the images in this video. [More...]


"President Obama's orders send an important message to the world that United States is prepared to reengage with the international community on human rights issues and to conduct counter-terrorism measures in a manner that respects the rule of law and U.S. treaty obligations. In formulating a plan for the treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo and other international detention centers, the Obama administration should break from the Bush administration's distortion of the definition of torture and cruel and inhumane treatment and end the unlawful rendition program. We are hopeful that the administration will fully comply with international treaties, including the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture."

The Center for Constitutional Rights:

The order to make all agencies abide by the Army Field Manual’s acceptable interrogation tactics is perhaps the most important gesture toward restoring our moral authority as a nation. The Center for Constitutional Rights represents so many men who were brutally tortured by our government that this hits home for us in a way that it may not for those with no faces and lives to attach to the story.

Again, we caution that the order may leave an escape hatch if the CIA should want more tactics, i.e. torture, available in its arsenal. The Geneva conventions should be the only arbiter of what is possible for governments to do to human beings.

You can read the full text of President Obama's executive orders here.

President Obama did us proud today. He's off to great start. We're not there yet, but we're closer. To finally reach that place called justice, we must not forget what took place in our name.

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    The counter move (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by lentinel on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 05:13:11 AM EST
    In today's Times there is a headline that states that a detainee that was released from Gitmo eighteen months ago is now a leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen.

    Down the page, there are a number of statements that say things like "maybe".

    Here's one:

    "Although the Pentagon has said that dozens of released Guantánamo detainees have "returned to the fight," its claim is difficult to document, and has been met with skepticism. In any case, few of the former detainees, if any, are thought to have become leaders of a major terrorist organization like Al Qaeda in Yemen, a mostly homegrown group that experts say has been reinforced by foreign fighters."

    But the headline remains.

    It does not pass the smell test.
    It seems as if the effort to close Gitmo is going to be met with this kind of scare tactic.
    It is not clear who is behind it.
    But it is clear that the Bush mentality which so infected the government and the press is alive and well.

    WSWS on Obama's orders (none / 0) (#2)
    by Andreas on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 02:20:37 AM EST
    While the media is portraying these orders as a repudiation of the detention and interrogation policies of the Bush administration, they actually change little. They essentially represent a public relations effort to refurbish the image of the United States abroad after years of torture and extralegal detentions and shield high-ranking American officials from potential criminal prosecution.

    Obama's orders leave torture, indefinite detention intact
    By Tom Eley, 23 January 2009

    I heard it on CNN too that (none / 0) (#3)
    by suzieg on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 04:09:31 AM EST
    there is an out in the executive order he signed in which the CIA may be able to use harsher methods than the Army Field Manual allowed for.

    except the order specifically states (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Molly Bloom on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 06:43:09 AM EST
    Sec. 6.  Construction with Other Laws.  Nothing in this order shall be construed to affect the obligations of officers,
    employees, and other agents of the United States Governmen
    t to
    comply with all pertinent laws and treatie
    s of the United States
    governing detention and interrogation, including but not limited
     the Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the United States
    Constitution; the Federal torture statute, 18 U.S.C. 2340-2340A;
    the War Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. 2441;...the Geneva
    Conventions; and the Convention Against Torture.  Nothing in
    this order shall be construed to diminish any rights that any
    individual may have under these or other laws and treaties.  

    It would help if these pundits would actually read the order. I realize it in pdf format and people don't like to down load pdf's but really...

    The short version is we are back to where we were before Bush decided to go Jack Bauer.  


    Time (none / 0) (#6)
    by lentinel on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 05:22:19 AM EST
    Only time will tell the extent to which Obama is for real.

    If torture is permitted to continue, its' use will eventually find its' way into the press. It will undermine his credibility.

    I can see it now: It is 2012. Obama's credibility on issues of civil liberties has been damaged. The Left is outraged. The Republicans choose Attila the Hun as their nominee. The Left flees to Obama.

    I do hope for the best - that Obama is not allowing a huge loophole in his ban on torture.

    Only time will tell.


    McCain and Guantanamo (none / 0) (#4)
    by Peter Biddulph on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 04:52:08 AM EST
    What McCain and Fox and all those enthusiasts of the "War on Terror" forget is this:  If Vietnam had followed America's rules, former navy pilot and Vietnam war "hero" McCain would still be a prisoner on an island off the coast of Vietnam, detained in solitary as an "enemy combattant".

    Images (none / 0) (#7)
    by lentinel on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 06:11:59 AM EST
    The images of the manner in which our detainees or prisoners have been treated are powerful. They make one want to do something about it.

    The music, on the other hand, is god-awful.

    It is the same lame passive victim music that has infected all of left leaning movements for the last umpteen years.

    It, consciously or unconsciously, is a call to coma.

    They won't like these kinds of stories (none / 0) (#9)
    by jbindc on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 07:27:37 AM EST
    This is not a good story for Obama to be coming out now in the midst of the "good feeling" that has been felt after the announcement of Gitmo's imminent closing:

    Freed by U.S., Saudi becomes a Qaeda Chief

    BEIRUT, Lebanon -- The emergence of a former Guantánamo Bay detainee as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda's Yemeni branch has underscored the potential complications in carrying out the executive order President Obama signed Thursday that the detention center be shut down within a year.

    The militant, Said Ali al-Shihri, is suspected of involvement in a deadly bombing of the United States Embassy in Yemen's capital, Sana, in September. He was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and passed through a Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists before resurfacing with Al Qaeda in Yemen.

    His status was announced in an Internet statement by the militant group and was confirmed by an American counterterrorism official.

    "They're one and the same guy," said the official, who insisted on anonymity because he was discussing an intelligence analysis. "He returned to Saudi Arabia in 2007, but his movements to Yemen remain unclear."

    So, where are the bodies? (none / 0) (#10)
    by lambert on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 08:20:46 AM EST
    Jeralyn, thanks for this post, as great now as it was then. 26 airplanes? That's a small airline, so what happened to the passengers? That's a horrible question to even think about asking, but logic leads me to ask it, and I think it needs to be asked, and answered (possibly by a Truth and Reconciliation commisssion).
    Let's do some arithmetic on how many prisoners Bush is holding in his gulags.

    We know that there are thousands of prisoners (estimates range from 7,000 to 35,000).
    Gitmo holds only 500.  
    So, where are the missing thousands? The only alternatives I can think of:
    They've been released
    They're still in jail
    They've been disappeared.
    Barring divine intervention, the bodies of the missing thousands occupy time and space in this world. Where are they?
    If they've been released, then it's remarkable how few stories from ex-prisoners have appeared the press, especially the Middle Eastern press. Eh?

    [I accidentally posted a duplicate of this comment on the original Ghost Air post. Sorry!]

    well, yeah! (none / 0) (#11)
    by cpinva on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 09:09:34 AM EST
    The Republicans choose Attila the Hun as their nominee.

    except, mr. hun is still dead. i realize a lot of candidates look dead, but technically they're alive. in mr. hun's case, he really is dead.

    it's clear, from the executive order, that torture is precluded, as a legitimate means of interrogation, by any US personel; there appear to be no secret loopholes, the blathering class' blathering nothwithstanding.

    that said, it shouldn't take a year to close down gitmo; move them all to a super-max federal prison, then dispose of their cases through the courts. it should take a month, tops.

    clarification: (none / 0) (#12)
    by cpinva on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 09:11:19 AM EST
    it should take a month to relocate them all to a federal super-max prison, not necessarily move their cases through the courts.

    Reagan's dead too... (none / 0) (#13)
    by pmj6 on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 10:16:24 AM EST
    ...so why not Mr. Hun?

    The press is already (none / 0) (#14)
    by weltec2 on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 07:54:01 PM EST
    in a panic. BO has already made us unsafe. Our families are in immanent danger. Danger. Danger! Be very afraid. We all here at Fox knew this was going to happen. BO is in the hands of the faaar left.