Monday, November 10, 2008

A Promising Start?

"On Day One, with the stroke of a pen, you can restore America's moral leadership in the World," says the full-page ACLU ad (PDF). The open-letter campaign calls for President-elect Barack Obama to issue an executive order that closes Guantanamo Bay prison on Jan. 20. (Check out our new website,

While Obama said throughout his presidential run that he believes the indefinite imprisonment of the detainees "a sad chapter in American history," and would work to close it (as did his opponent Sen. John McCain) yesterday's news reports indicate that the new administration intends to make it a top and immediate goal.

According to a hopeful article Monday from the Associated Press:
President-elect Obama's advisers are crafting plans to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and prosecute terrorism suspects in the U.S., a plan that the Bush administration said Monday was easier said than done.

Under the plan being crafted inside Obama's camp, some prisoners would be released and others would be charged in U.S. courts, where they would receive constitutional rights and open trials. But, underscoring the difficult decisions Obama must make to fulfill his pledge of shutting down Guantanamo, the plan could require the creation of a new legal system to handle the classified information inherent in some of the most sensitive cases.

The article goes on to say:
Laurence Tribe, a Harvard law professor and Obama legal adviser, said discussions about plans for Guantánamo had been "theoretical" before the election but would quickly become very focused because closing the prison is a top priority.

However, before we permit too much unbridled optimism to cloud our judgment, another breaking story in the Chicago Tribune last night cautioned readers that a lot of work yet remains in closing this international disgrace.
"President-elect Obama said throughout his campaign that the legal framework at Guantanamo has failed to successfully and swiftly prosecute terrorists, and he shares the broad bipartisan belief that Guantanamo should be closed," McDonough said in a statement.

Obama isn't perfect. I'm still irked over his FISA vote. But this, to all the cynics out there, should give us hope that, perhaps, he means business and that the worst abuses of civil liberties over the past eight years may be rectified.

Lauri in York

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