Well, our new President wasted no time in getting down to some of the business he promised during the campaign: Obama issues directive on detainees, interrogation, Guantanamo.
The national security orders mandate that interrogation techniques in the Army Field Manual be used by all intelligence and law enforcement services; call for a task force to look at closing the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within the year; and order a strategy be developed for handling detainees in the future. The presidential directive also orders a stay in the case of Ali Al-Marri, the only person being held by the military as an enemy combatant on U.S. soil.
The executive order says everyone in custody should be questioned under the Army Field Manual, which is intended for honorable combatants, meaning POWs in a military conflict. The rule would prevent trained interrogators at the CIA from using lawful interrogation techniques against terrorists who have been trained to withstand Army Field Manual techniques.
According to sources in the law enforcement community, the executive order on interrogation does not declare “enhanced interrogation techniques” to be torture; the order is silent on that.
“This allows for a lot of flexibility, a lot of wiggle room,” said one source.
Administration officials indicated they do not want detainees outside of the U.S. to get habeas corpus rights or rights similar to those enjoyed by U.S. citizens. The Obama administration will likely go to Congress for what it wants to accomplish.
This was expected, really. He’d said he was going to make closing Gitmo a priority. But that begs the question of what to do with the residents. That last paragraph above tends to indicate to me that really, not all that much is going to change, and that’s confirmed by the rest of the article (yes, it’s Fox News, go read it anyway, you won’t catch Murdoch cooties if your anti-virus and firewall are up to date). If they don’t get habeus corpus rights, that sounds like they won’t be tried in US courts. So what’s different from the military tribunals, and if they’re removed, what replaces them? They’re still working on that part. It’s going to take a while to unravel it all. And it’s made more complicated by the fact that even if Obama wanted Gitmo closed tomorrow and all the detainees released, many of them can’t be. Nobody will take them back, or they’re very likely to get tortured in their home countries.
As for the interrogation changes…no problems here. I’m not comfortable with waterboarding or some of the other techniques being used, except in the direst Jack Bauer-esque circumstances. Again, this was expected.
And finally, for those of us that are pro-life like me and Wife Unit, a taste of what we (and the unborn) can expect from the Obama administration:
Separately, the administration issued a reversal of a ban on federal funding for non-governmental organizations working outside the U.S. that offer abortions or abortion counseling.
Obama signed the executive order on the 36th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in all 50 states.