22 January, 2009


Obama's first days have been busy:

For all the talk about Obama not governing as a progressive, take a look at his first not-even-48 hours in office. He's suspended the Guantanamo Bay military commissions, a first step toward shuttering the entire detention complex. He's assembled his military commanders to discuss troop withdrawals from Iraq. He's issued a far-reaching order on transparency in his administration that mandates, among other things, a two-year ban on any ex-lobbyists working on issues they lobbied for. And now he's shutting down the CIA's off-the-books detention complexes in the war on terrorism.

As Yglesias mentioned, Obama's new pay ceilings for White House staff are at best a political gimmick and at worst a disincentive for retaining the most qualified public servants. But the rest is consequential, it goes further already than many (at least in Washington) were expecting, and I think it signals Obama's intention for bold movement right off the bat. All good things.


Cassady said...

I don't understand entirely what the objections are to closing Gitmo--help me out here.

Yes, it's full of arguably bad guys 'we' feel are deserving of some great punishment, or are too much of a 'threat' to our security to be allowed to go free (and a 15 year old we're not sure about)--but what does it really matter if they are in the country proper or in Guantanamo? Like we don't have prisons of appropriate security full of equally bad guys right here?

Then there's the dubious way we maintain our claim to the place now. I'm sure legally we could hang on to it per the treaty--but I think we may be in breach by denying Cuba ultimate sovereignty over it.

Of course it will be a complicated prisoner transfer, that's not in question--but it will be better than having the stinking armpit of the world's worst abuses under our domain. Plus, we're already talking about recategorizing the prisoners there to deal with them most appropriately, provide Red Cross access to the prisoners, as well as not torturing them anymore. I don't see an issue, but I obviously don't have all the facts. Help me out.

spencer said...

I certainly think we should shut down Guantanamo, but just to play devil's advocate it seems like the best argument against closing Gitmo is that we'd be releasing hundreds of people who are likely to harbor grudges against the US for their treatment while in Cuba. These people will be bent on destroying us. This is bad.

Cassady said...

I heard the same argument on NPR, and I'm not sure that I buy it entirely.

I'm sure a certain class of ex-detainee will do exactly that--and because of their experiences serve as perfect poster-boys for the anti-american factions out there. I think another class of person is also likely--the kind that overcome, forgive, and use their experiences to show that they wouldn't wish that fate on ANY other human being, and try to recognize that their release came about because of a reversal of bad policy. Which is, of course, a sign that America as a whole is on a more ethical track.

spencer said...

Another argument against the one I made in my last post is that keeping Guantanamo open creates far more people who hate America than the number that we would be releasing.