Obama Orders Guantanamo To Close After One Year

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Barack, Bush, Guantanamo Bay, Law, Torture, Transparency

Also, the words “we don’t torture” will finally be true.

From NY Times:

The orders, which are the first steps in undoing detention policies of former President George W. Bush, rewrite American rules for the detention of terrorism suspects. They require an immediate review of the 245 detainees still held at the naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to determine if they should be transferred, released or prosecuted.

And the orders bring to an end a Central Intelligence Agency program that kept terrorism suspects in secret custody for months or years, a practice that has brought fierce criticism from foreign governments and human rights activists. They will also prohibit the C.I.A. from using coercive interrogation methods, requiring the agency to follow the same rules used by the military in interrogating terrorism suspects, government officials said.

There are still a lot of legal questions to be answered, but I can’t help but think that they’re not as complicated as many would have us believe. The only reason there’s any complications in the first place is we had a “kidnap first, ask questions later” policy. And that ultimately resulted in hundreds of folks being held for years without access to legal counsel and then released with a pat on the back and an “Our bad!” by the government.

No, the only potentially tough question is “Where do the real criminals go?” Murtha has already said he’d take them so let’s give them to him. It’s not like these folks are radioactive and we characterize them like as such at our own peril because we elevate their status and legend. They’re just people who may or may not have committed a crime and they should be treated as such.


This entry was posted on Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 and is filed under Barack, Bush, Guantanamo Bay, Law, Torture, Transparency. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

13 Responses to “Obama Orders Guantanamo To Close After One Year”

  1. Snarkless J. Harden Says:

    “kidnap first, ask questions later”

    Justin, I only bring this up, because I am fully on-board your effort to establish a zone of mutual civility and respect, regardless of view point. Surely, you can see how the above-comment would be highly offensive to our men and women in the military, particularly ones that were engaged in direct fighting with the enemy and detaining these individuals. Do you consider these soldiers “kidnappers”? I am not suggesting that you do, but only that you consider using less inflamatory language that will not insinuate that US soldiers behave criminally or with malicious intent.

    All hail the chief!

  2. Gary Baumgarten Says:

    We will be discussing the closing of Gitmo on News Talk Online on Paltalk.com at 5 PM New York time today.

    Please go to http://www.garybaumgarten.com and click on the Enter Chat Room button to join in the conversation.

    Thanks.

    Gary

  3. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    In other news, President Brack Obama ordered the execution of 9 terror suspects without trial in Pakistan today.

  4. Justin Gardner Says:

    Snarkless J. Harden,

    You’re right. I should have delineated between suspects who were kidnapped and suspects who were caught on the battle field. But we did kidnap numerous people and hold them indefinitely and those people in particular have been the subject of scrutiny on this blog and elsewhere.

    Also, I consider the people at the top to be responsible for the tactics, not the military personnel themselves. Because the vast majority of the time they’re just following orders, and this is a widely accepted notion. So to take the leap that I was calling soldiers kidnappers is specious at best. But nice try.

    Jimmy,

    Yep. When we have good intelligence and a clear shot, we’ll take it. Obama said this on the campaign trail and he’s following through. So I don’t see the equivocation between this and Guantanamo as apt.

  5. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    Yep. When we have good intelligence and a clear shot, we’ll take it.

    As long as that shot includes killing people rather than “kidnapping” them, apparently.

  6. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    ADDENDUM:

    After all, you don’t want to kidnap and detain someone who might be innocent if your intelligence was wrong. It might cause a human rights controversy. If you kill him outright, he just becomes a number on a headline for one day.

    In other news: Emancipated Kidnap Victim Turns to Terror. All the more reason to avoid these kidnappings completely and just “take a shot” at them instead.

  7. Jeremy from NJ Says:

    Jimmy,

    “Al-Shihri was released by the U.S. in 2007 to the Saudi government for rehabilitation.”

    I wonder why Bush had him released? Doesn’t seem like the guy to send to the Saudi’s, even if they’re your best friends.

  8. coffee Says:

    closing Guantanamo represents a step in the right direction; pretty soon the U.S. will be able to join the world community once again

  9. TerenceC Says:

    “Where do the real criminals go?”

    That’s a question no one has ever defined because apparently no one knows exactly what crimes were committed by many of these people. The term “real criminals” could just as easily apply to personnel in the US government involved in GITMO as well as “foreigners”. This whole process needs to undergo a thorough investigation just to determine what the facts are. The previous administration was so dishonest, so deceitful, and so incompetent that I don’t believe anyone has a clear picture of all that occurred. Regardless of what the facts may eventually detail this whole GITMO situation is a real stain on our great country – anyone who supports it should be deeply ashamed of themselves.

  10. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    I wonder why Bush had him released? Doesn’t seem like the guy to send to the Saudi’s, even if they’re your best friends.

    Jeremy, now Obama is the President. He is the Saudi’s best friend now, not Bush. You can’t criticize Americas relationship with Saudi Arabia going forward without criticizing Obama. Do you honestly think anything is going to change there? Did you hear Obama’s address concerning Israel/Palestine? It was exactly what Bush had said. No differences at all. Not one. No Change.

    Its gonna be tough, isnt it?…to criticize American policy now that Obama is the Man. Therefore, the Saudis must be your best friends now. See, I can play that silly game too. Jeremy and Abd’ullah sitting in a tree…

    Oh, and the number of innocent-until-proven-guilty suspects executed by President Obama without trial in Pakistan is up to 21, with 2 children amongst the dead. Thank God we didn’t have those same incompetent war criminals actually detaining them. Obama must have had clear evidence those children were terrorists.

  11. Jeremy from New Jersey Says:

    Jimmy,

    Interesting attempt to change the subject. Ever heard of a false of syllogism? I’m sure you have. Still doesn’t change the fact that Bush released the guy.

    I have no problem criticizing Obama. I will do so the very first time I feel the need. Perhaps next time he goes back on his word about telecom immunity, or the next time I see him holding hands with Prince Abdullah.

  12. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    O.K. cool. I agree with you about Bush. He should not have allowed that terrorist to be released from Guantanamo Bay. Nor the 60-70 other terrorists who have been known to return to the battlefield. Nor the others who have done the same that we don’t yet know about. Innocent people who have been through Guantanamo Bay should never have been detained in the first place.

    Simply closing Guantanamo and detaining terror suspects elsewhere does not change the situation, which is rather nuanced as you can see. Its my guess that Obama will realize this soon enough.

  13. Mike A. Says:

    Although Gitmo will go away, the need to prosecute enemy combatants won’t. And not all enemy combatants will come from other nations. Remember the Oklahoma bombing. There will be more attacks in the future, whether on our shores or on our interests abroad. This country needs to figure out how to effectively prosecute and execute these assholes in a public forum…not secretly.

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