Obama Slipping into Legal Swamp That Engulfed Bush Administration?
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."
Recommendations were released along with the news of the delay and included the following: "prosecutors should aim to try cases before civilian courts, but says other factors can be considered, including the seriousness of the charges, the identity of victims, the way evidence was gathered, the available sentence and 'foreign policy concerns.'"
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..."- Advertisement -
"...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 Guanta'namo policies. Any effort to revamp the failed Guanta'namo 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 Guanta'namo 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.