Sunday, January 18, 2009

Close It ! Close IT ! CLOSE IT !

An essential task for President Obama to begin tackling immediately after the Inauguration!

The New York Times, January 17, 2009, Editorial
Closing Guantánamo

In a long series of valedictory speeches and interviews, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have been crowing about Guantánamo Bay, secret prisons and abusive interrogations, claiming they met the highest legal standards and that no prisoner had been tortured. Fortunately, the truth broke through the noise, in the words of some of the very people ordered to carry out the policies.
In an interview in The Washington Post, Susan Crawford, the retired judge who runs the military tribunals at Guantánamo, said that harsh interrogation methods had endangered the life of Mohammed al-Qahtani, a Saudi national accused of planning to take part in the 9/11 attacks. Authorized by then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, they included sustained isolation, nudity and prolonged exposure to the cold.
“We tortured Qahtani,” Judge Crawford said, adding that she was therefore unable to prosecute a man who seemed to pose a real threat to the United States.
Judge Crawford was not the only one speaking out. Major David Frakt of the Air Force Reserve, who was assigned to defend another Guantánamo prisoner, told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that he and all the other defense lawyers in the system consider the tribunals “unfair, rigged” and unconstitutional. He noted that his client’s prosecutor resigned to protest the lack of evidence in the case.
That is the real nature of Mr. Bush’s grotesque legacy: abuse and torture at an outlaw prison where hundreds of men — many of whom did nothing — have been held for years without real evidence or charges. And truly dangerous men were treated so badly that it may be impossible to bring them to justice.
It will be hard enough to close down Guantánamo as Barack Obama has vowed to do, but the legal burdens Mr. Bush is dumping on his successor are much greater.
[ ... ]
We recognize that this is a daunting agenda, and that to succeed, Mr. Obama’s White House, Justice Department and Pentagon will also have to rebuild demoralized legal divisions where professionals were replaced with apparatchiks whose mission was to twist the law to justify their masters’ decisions.
This work is essential to restoring the rule of law. It is essential to restoring this country’s reputation around the world. And it is essential to restoring Americans’ faith in themselves and in their government. That is the only way to move forward.
This is necessary for a restoration of American ideals and for renewed conformity with those of the enlightened world: LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL !

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