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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Obama's Guantanamo: A Tortured Legacy

In spite of promising signs that President Obama was reversing the Bush Administration's illegal and short-sighted policies that made up the "war on terror," recent news from Washington suggests Mr. Obama's legacy is not that different from Mr. Bush's: impunity and indefinite detention continue to be the way of the White House. When Mr. Obama signed the executive orders closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and the CIA's secret prisons, it seemed to be a signal that America would again respect the rule of international law and human rights, but the latest annoucements that the U.S. may revive Guantánamo military courts and that Obama seeks to block release of Abu Ghraib photos indicates otherwise.

Under the Obama Administration, the Departmet of Justice continues to remain stagnate and look to other countries to resolve the legal and political quagmire that is Guantanamo. There remains over 50 men who were cleared for release by the Bush Administration and the current review of evidence by the Obama Administration affirms the freedom these men should have. But instead of expediating the release of these men, the hostility and trumped up fears by the likes of Dick Cheney, conservative talk show hosts and most of Congress has this nation in a frenzy. Instead of putting time and energy into ensuring justice is met, the debate about the effectiveness of torture rolls on, continuing to taint America's commitment to human rights and democracy. The impunity granted to U.S. policy makers and government officials who legitimized torture continues to be a dark shadow in our recent past. Mr. Obama seeking to reinstate the controversial, inneffective, and unjust military tribunals is a betrayal of American ideals of habeas corpus and the right to a fair trial. With regards to the photos that the DOJ is seeking to block the release of on grounds of being a threat to national security, Mr. Obama continues to play the worn-out game of exploiting the American public from the depravity and inhumanity of our tortured foreign policy in the name of decorum.


  1. You are right on to call President Obama's action a "betrayal." It is sick that the he would justify such action, as you put it, "in the name of decorum." This impunity violates the first amendment's clause that "Congress shall make no law...to abridge the freedom of the people to petition the government for a redress of grievances." Under the freedom of information Act, the ACLU applied for access to these photos in order to inform the public of what grievances for which it may demand redress. The fears trumpt up by former vice-president Dick Cheney are no authorization for withholding from the U.S. public.