SocraticGadfly: Don’t give Obama a gold star for human rights just yet

January 23, 2009

Don’t give Obama a gold star for human rights just yet

Why not? Because there’s a truck-sized loophole or two in his executive order shutting down Guantanamo and mandating the use of the Army Field Manual for interrogations, including CIA ones.

Here’s your loopholes:
Obama’s order closing Guantánamo assigns the attorney general to lead a review of what should happen to the remaining detainees and does not rule out the possibility of trying some of them using military commissions. …

One task force, with the attorney general and secretary of defense as co-chairmen, will study detainee policy and report to the president in six months. A second task force, led by the attorney general, and with the secretary of defense and director of national intelligence as vice co-chairs, will study whether the Army Field Manual should remain the only standard for interrogators and review the practice of extraordinary rendition.

In short, six months from now, Obama could:
• Let the CIA go back to “enhanced interrogation techniques”;
• Decide to continue rendering alleged terrorists to Jordan, Egypt, etc.;
• Establish a new set of military commissions, with either a lot, or a little, changed from the 2006 Military Commissions Act baseline, and therefore still not afford Geneva protections, or fully adversarial legal defense rights, to so-called Global War on Terror detainees.

It's no wonder that folks like Michael Ratner, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, are worried.

And, a bonus question: Just what did Obama CIA nominee Leon Panetta know about extraordinary rendition (and is there such a thing as “ordinary” rendition?) from his days as Clinton chief of staff ?

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