Sunday, 22 February 2009

Obama's Guantanamo

Inspite of campaigning on a slogan of 'Change we need,' it doesn't look like barak Obama is really interested in changing very much.

Four detainees at the Bagram Military base in Afghanistan have been trying to get the same access to the US legal system as was finally granted to the Guantanamo Bayt detainees. The Bush administration, naturally, resisted.

Then Bush was booted and Obama became the Commander-in-Chief. Result? As far as Bagram went, nothing changed:
Two days into his presidency, Mr Obama promised to shut Guantanamo within a year ... the judge in the Bagram case said that the order “indicated significant changes to the government’s approach to the detention, and review of detention, of individuals currently held at Guantanamo Bay” and that “a different approach could impact the court’s analysis of certain issues central to the resolution” of the Bagram cases as well. Judge John Bates asked the new administration if it wanted to “refine” its stance.

The response, filed by the Department of Justice late on Friday, came as a crushing blow to human rights campaigners. “Having considered the matter, the government adheres to its previously articulated position,” it said. (1)

As Binyam Mohamed's lawyer, Clive Stafford-Smith pointed out,

“Guantanamo Bay was a diversionary tactic in the ‘War on Terror’ ... Totting up the prisoners around the world – held by the US in Iraq, Afghanistan, Djibouti, the prison ships and Diego Garcia, or held by US proxies in Jordan, Egypt and Morocco – the numbers dwarf Guantanamo. There are still perhaps as many as 18,000 people in legal black holes. Mr Obama should perhaps be offered more than a month to get the American house in order. However, this early sally from the administration underlines another message: it is far too early for human rights advocates to stand on the USS Abraham Lincoln and announce, ‘Mission Accomplished’.” (2)
Obama won the election by promising to change things. Stafford Smith might suggest be too early for him to have done much more than he has. I disagree. Stafford SMith is in a position where he has to be diplomatic. I don't, so I'll say what I feel. People have been abused, tortured and lost years of their lives. I don't think it is wrong to regard any delay as what it is - cowardly vacillation.
1 - " Obama denies terror suspects right to trial," by Stephen Foley, published in The Independent, 22nd of February, 2009. (
2 - ibid.

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