Obama’s orders leave torture, indefinite detention intact

On Thursday, President Barack Obama issued executive orders mandating the closure of the Guantánamo Bay prison camp in a year’s time, requiring that Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and military personnel follow the Army Field Manual’s prohibitions on torture, and closing secret CIA prisons overseas.

While the media is portraying these orders as a repudiation of the detention and interrogation policies of the Bush administration, they actually change little. They essentially represent a public relations effort to refurbish the image of the United States abroad after years of torture and extralegal detentions and shield high-ranking American officials from potential criminal prosecution.

In cowardly fashion, Obama staged his signing of the orders in a manner aimed at placating the political right and defenders of Guantanamo and torture and underscoring his intention to continue the Bush administration’s “war on terror.” He was flanked by 16 retired generals and admirals who have pushed for the closure of the prison camp in Cuba on the grounds that it impedes the prosecution of the global “war” and reiterated in his own remarks his determination to continue the basic political framework of the Bush administration’s foreign policy.

The continuation of the ideological pretext for wars of aggression and attacks on democratic rights ensures that the police state infrastructure erected under the Bush administration will remain intact. This is further reinforced by Obama’s assurances that his administration will not investigate or prosecute those officials–including Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales and others—who were responsible for the policies of torture and illegal detention.

The orders signed by Obama do not undo the Bush administration’s attacks on constitutional and international law. They do not challenge the supposed right of the president to unilaterally imprison any individual, without trial and without charges, by declaring him to be an “enemy combatant.” Nor do they end the procedure known as “extraordinary rendition,” by which the United States during the Bush years kidnapped alleged terrorists and shipped them to foreign countries or secret CIA prisons outside the US, where they were subjected to torture.

They do not affect the hundreds of prisoners–600 at the Bagram prison camp in Afghanistan alone—incarcerated beyond the barbed wire of Guantanamo. If and when Guantanamo is closed, the US government will simply ship alleged terrorists caught up its international dragnet to other American-run prison camps.

On the question of so-called “harsh interrogation techniques,” i.e., torture, Obama’s orders leave room for their continuation. White House Counsel Gregory Craig told reporters the administration was prepared to take into account demands from the CIA that such methods be allowed. Read it all


3 responses to “Obama’s orders leave torture, indefinite detention intact

  1. One note is that Obama’s order does specifically close and prevent the use of “extraordinary rendition”, including preventing the CIA from using any secret prisons.

    Obviously it’s not all going to change overnight, but I think to assume that nothing will change is to not give the new administration at least a little time and perhaps an “olive branch” so that they can work toward reversing the course the country is on as well as making amends for the wrongs of the Bush administration.

    It is a prudent choice to not spend the next 4 years using money, time, and valuable resources reliving the Bush years through trials and investigations. Instead, Obama has made the choice to move us forward, to try to figure out the “middle path”, and to correct the wrongs of the past 8 years without spending all of our time and energy mired in them.

  2. How can you ammend the wrongs of the Bush administration? How do you bring back the millions of civilians who have been slaughterd and displaced across the globe whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Palestine or Lebanon? What about the children who have been tortured or murdered, What of a parent’s grief and anger, of sisters and wives raped in front of them unable to do nothing-multi generations of family callously wiped out, rampant illegal kidnapping and torture. Legalized contractors/mercenaries with a free license to kill and brutalize and all under a pretext of lies so that the country could be looted for resources? Yes Obamba ‘s empty rhetoric is an expected buisness as usual to those on the receiving end of exported American- type democracy. Just being positive and allowing things to prudently fall into place maybe works for the well-to-do hanging out at the cottage after turkey dinner but not for those with the boot on their back. Your comment, “Not to spend the next 4 years using money, time, and valuable resources reliving the Bush years through trials and investigations but to figure out the “middle path” shows the utter contempt and disregard you and most Americans feel for the victims of these brutal imperial misadventures

  3. I think they should let them all out of that place., Then they can come live with you.

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