Closing of Gitmo "On Track" Despite Delay of Key Reports
News that two reports concerning the closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison have been delayed (one from a task force charged with creating detention policy and one charged with examining interrogation policy) shows that the Obama Administration is, once again, dithering and dragging its feet at a time when actions must be taken.
The detainee task force delaying the release of its report (and incidentally, the closing of Guantanamo Bay prison) claims it needs six more months to “get this right”:
“We need to go through these questions thoroughly… to make sure we have them resolved in a manner consistent with the role that they will play in national security,” the administration official said on condition of anonymity.
“We want to get this right and not to have another multiple years of uncertainty around these issues but rather be able to present to the Congress and American people a plan with legal foundation.”
Despite the delay, the Obama Administration is assuring human rights organizations and others concerned that it is "on track" and will close Guantanamo by January. But, what Newsweek reports seems to signal the closing could be, at best, symbolic.
Newsweek is reporting that the detention task force does agree that "the Obama administration should continue to claim the right to hold some Guantánamo inmates indefinitely as "combatants" under the "laws of war," without charging them either in criminal courts or in military commissions."
Such a proposal, if implemented, would be very similar to the policies the Bush Administration had and the legal basis would rest on a "2001 congressional authorization to use military force against the perpetrators of 9/11."
Officials claim the president finds the policy of indefinite detention "distasteful" but that "there is simply no alternative for dealing with potentially dozens of detainees whom the administration doesn't want to release because they are thought to be too dangerous" and cannot be tried because there is no evidence to try them.
The Obama Administration would continue this myth that somehow those we have imprisoned at Gitmo are connected to 9/11. (Of course, if they are, why didn't Bush hold trials to boost his approval ratings while he was in office? Why did he wait so Obama could try those guilty and reap the benefits?)
If you were worried that the detainees would not be able to challenge their "indefinite detention," don't worry. Newsweek also reports that there would be "opportunities for detainees to argue that they are no longer dangerous," which I'm sure will work out splendidly for the detainees.
Perhaps, detainees will want to study U.S. law while imprisoned so they can better argue their innocence each time they have an opportunity to go before a military panel?
Seems like a good idea to me. The Obama Administration could use detainee arguments against their detention to patch up the holes in their legal argument for indefinite detention making it possible for future administration to suppress freedom & liberty in America like they did.
The delay runs counter to the executive order's President Obama signed which seemed to be an action born out of the fierce urgency of now.
If you recall, on January 22, 2009, two days after being inaugurated, he signed three executive orders on closing Guantanamo Bay and torture and said the orders were being signed so that America could return to the “moral high ground” in the “war on terror.”
He issued the order to:
“…restore the standards of due process and the core constitutional values that have made this country great even in the midst of war, even in dealing with terrorism."
"We believe that the Army field manual reflects the best judgment of our military, that we can abide by a rule that says we don't torture, but that we can still effectively obtain the intelligence that we need…”
"…This is me following through ... on an understanding that dates back to our founding fathers, that we are willing to observe core standards of conduct not just when it's easy but also when it's hard."
The ACLU, which has been a key player in the release of documents and reports which have informed the public of just what the Bush Administration was secretly doing, said of the delay:
"The Obama administration must not slip into the same legal swamp that engulfed the Bush administration with its failed Guantánamo policies. Any effort to revamp the failed Guantánamo military commissions or enact a law to give any president the power to hold individuals indefinitely and without charge or trial is sure to be challenged in court and it will take years before justice is served. The only way to make good on President Obama's promise to shut down Guantánamo and end the military commissions is to charge and try the detainees in established federal criminal courts. Any effort to do otherwise will doom the Obama administration to lengthy litigation. A promise deferred could soon become a promise broken."
Indeed, this should be the fear of all concerned Americans as we read about this news---that the Obama Administration has “slipped into the same legal swamp that engulfed the Bush Administration.”
Most likely, the members of the task force are worried about the changes to detention and interrogation policy because they may limit their ability to act without warrant, without legal permission, and without lack of restrictions if the reports recommend the guidelines which the actions of the Bush Administration should compel one to make the moral argument for.
Let’s suppose that we should continue to fight the so-called “war on terror,” why should it be permissible for the best and brightest experts on detention and interrogation to miss and extend this deadline? How long should Americans and the world have to wait for a government to return to the so-called “moral high ground” that routinely committed acts of lawlessness during the past eight or nine years?
This delay is not without context. The Obama Administration has proven over the past six months to be okay with continuing the lawlessness and secrecy that was emblematic of the Bush Administration.
The Obama Administration is fighting an August 31st deadline that they set for the release of a 2004 CIA Inspector General report on the "enhanced interrogation program."
The release of the report has been delayed a few times and was, in fact, delayed earlier this month. The report was released in 2008 and then entirely redacted.
The Obama Administration claims that the Justice Department just cannot get through "the volume of material it needs to go through" before the deadline.
Oh, please. Hire a few interns interested in a job and future with the CIA. Have them read the documents and write out what is detailed. This seems like the perfect opportunity for indoctrination.
Of course, the ACLU responded with a little bit of logic and reasoning:
"The CIA has already had more than five months to review the inspector general’s report, and the report is only about two hundred pages long. We’re increasingly troubled that the Obama administration is suppressing documents that would provide more evidence that the CIA’s interrogation program was both ineffective and illegal. President Obama should not allow the CIA to determine whether evidence of its own unlawful conduct should be made available to the public. The public has a right to know what took place in the CIA’s secret prisons and on whose authority."
Also, the Obama Administration chose to oppose the release of detainee photos in May because, according to President Obama, they would "further inflame anti-American opinion" and endanger our troops. Obama also feared the photos would have a chilling effect on future investigations of detainee abuse." Jonathan Hafetz of the ACLU found the argument against the release of the photos to have "no validity" and said, "Secrecy is fundamentally inconsistent with American values and the rule of law. It undermines not enhances our security to try to shield abuses that we have committed from the public eye." The law and our nation's highest esteemed values run opposite to Obama's support of secrecy, secrecy which allows lawlessness to continue unopposed and unchallenged. In the midst of allegations of CIA misconduct, shouldn't the Obama Administration start meeting deadlines and stop fighting the release of information?
Jonathan Hafetz of the ACLU found the argument against the release of the photos to have "no validity" and said, "Secrecy is fundamentally inconsistent with American values and the rule of law. It undermines not enhances our security to try to shield abuses that we have committed from the public eye."
The law and our nation's highest esteemed values run opposite to Obama's support of secrecy, secrecy which allows lawlessness to continue unopposed and unchallenged.
In the midst of allegations of CIA misconduct, shouldn't the Obama Administration start meeting deadlines and stop fighting the release of information?