A Forum for Opinions on News, Politics, and Life
May 3rd, 2011
By Seth Forman
After campaigning for years on closing Guantanamo Bay military prison and secret overseas CIA prisons, and actually signing an order to do so in 2009, Obama abruptly reversed himself in March, 2011. Good thing, too.
Follow the sequence of events.
Barack Obama, August 2007, Salon.com:
As President, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act and adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Our Constitution and our Uniform Code of Military Justice provide a framework for dealing with the terrorists.
Barack Obama, November 16, 2008, 60 Minutes:
I have said repeatedly that I intend to close Guantanamo, and I will follow through on that.
Barack Obama, January 22, 2009, Salon.com:
Just two days after taking office, Obama signs the executive order directing the military to close Guantanamo Bay by January 2010. Says Obama:
“This is me following through on not just a commitment I made during the campaign, but I think an understanding that dates back to our founding fathers, that we are willing to observe core standards of conduct, not just when it’s easy, but also when it’s hard.”
Barack Obama, January 23, 2009, Australian Broadcasting Corporation:
Guantanamo will be closed no later than one year from now. … We can abide by a rule that says we don’t torture.
Barack Obama, May 2009, Salon.com:
By any measure, the costs of keeping it [Guantanamo] open far exceed the complications involved in closing it. That’s why I argued that it should be closed throughout my campaign, and that is why I ordered it closed within one year.
Barack Obama, January, 2010, Salon.com:
We will not be transferring additional detainees back to Yemen at this time. But make no mistake. We will close Guantanamo prison, which has damaged our national security interests and become a tremendous recruiting tool for Al Qaeda.
March 2011, Salon.com:
Obama signs an executive order to create a formal system of indefinite detention for the captives still kept at Guantanamo Bay. Releases statement through senior administration official: “The president does remain committed to closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay.”
Osama bin Laden killed, May 1, 2011, Washington Post.
May 2, 2011, New York Times:
The New York Times reports that a courier for Bin laden who led American intelligence to the terrorist leader was identified by Guantanamo Bay detainees.
Detainees at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, had given the courier’s pseudonym to American interrogators and said that the man was a protégé of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the confessed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.
May 2, 2011, Associated Press:
Officials say CIA interrogators in secret overseas prisons developed the first strands of information that ultimately led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden’s most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed’s successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.
Here’s hoping that Obama indulges us in many more such policy reversals.
[Seth Forman is author of the forthcoming book American Obsession: Race and Conflict in the Age of Obama (Booklocker).]
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