These last few weeks I've had a hard time finding something to write about. Obama got in, hasn't been shot at and Bush in his last few weeks as president actually acted like a responsible statesman. As a result it's been rather hard to find a subject to get worked up about enough to actually express my thoughts on it.
Yesterday I found the proper rage to begin this article, so for that I'm thankful.
Obama has signed three executive orders regarding treatment of US detainees. The first is to close Guantanamo bay within the year, the 2nd is for US Army interrogators to adhere to the Army Field Manual which prohibits torture (mostly because it's ineffective), and shut down CIA detention centers around the world, and the third order was to create a task force headed by Gates to bring proper legal justice to the current and future detainees according to American law.
This was an interesting political move, it establishes a precedent that Obama really does intend to adhere to his campaign promise of change and wishes to restore a degree of ethics to the American Foreign Policy, which as a policy rooted in combatting tyranny (ideally) has been quite hypocritical these past few years. It is an order I doubted Obama would actually carry out at all but he has made it his first move in his first week on the job and for that I've developed a greater respect for him. Politically he can coast on this for a while as his advocates will feel vindicated and the skeptics will be appeased for a time, so in the end I believe it was smart politics to gain an initial popularity boost before tackling some of the more mundane presidential duties.
What outrages me in all this is that there are actually Americans who DON'T LIKE IT.
I've heard that it's bad policy to issue an order "without a plan", I've heard "we treat them better then they treat us", I've heard "they'll just recruit American prisoners to their cause in regular prisons" and the piece de resistance "what if they're found innocent?"
Critics of these orders say that this will compromise US national security, that it accomplishes nothing, and is merely a political ploy. With the third statement I agree, this is a political move pure and simple, but a necessary one.
To illustrate my beliefs regarding this torture issue and Guantanamo bay I shall return to something I learned around this time last year about Ron Paul. Paul has been in politics for a good number of years and he's known to have a great deal of integrity, however back in the 70's he was publishing newsletters under his name and some clearly racist comments and suggestions were in them. When the newsletters circulated it was a PR disaster for Paul, he was dubbed a racist and was forced to drop his campaign for president. He did not try to defend or excuse the papers likely because he wanted to maintain his integrity but he could have salvaged his campaign and moved on further if he had carried out the appropriate response. Had he clearly responded to the scandal with "It came out and I FIRED that editor, tried to have the words removed but it was published." Even if there were several months of articles, he needed to spin it as outrage and apology, distance himself from the writing and declare in no uncertain terms that he did not share those opinions. To the bane of Libertarians everywhere he did not do this and he failed in his bid for president.
The Bush Administration's handling of this torture issue mirrors that Ron Paul scandal, when issues of torture and prisoner mistreatment came up, they should have denied them! They should have publicly and officially chastised those who were involved and proclaimed loudly and from the rooftops that THIS. WAS. NOT. RIGHT! But instead they dug themselves in further, which was inconceivable! Politicians have a bad rap as is, but they actually tried to make this despicable, illegal, incondonable, and immoral act LEGAL! Instead of deny deny deny which any common criminal knows how to do, these men got in bed with this disgusting issue and started their own bukkake porn series.
I believe that the allegations of Torture are likely not as widespread as the enemies of the Bush administration (and enemies of America) would claim, but frankly it doesn't matter, it's scandal and scandal must be ended to restore credibility. Even if the remedy is only superficial it rarely matters, Guantanamo has become a symbol of American decadence, and Republican corruption that should have been eliminated at least 2 years ago, not by a new Democratic President, but by the Republican Party it's self! Instead they defended it's use, claiming it was "necessary" despite mounting evidence of it's ineffectiveness, and passed laws condoning it's existence and further damaging their Constitution and reputation.
America's treatment of this issue up til now has clearly done more harm to their national security than good. It would be pure silliness for any suicide bomber training indoctrination to fail to mention the "American Torture Camps" that would await them instead of the 40 virgins should they fail in their sacred mission. It's basic psychology. Imagine instead of a scenario where Obama unleashes the Press Corps to witness the "turnaround" of American Military Detention Centers, and making them the most courteous and professional outfits in the world. If every enemy combatant knew without a doubt that if captured they would be treated properly respectfully and had a real chance of being able to go home to their families if they cooperated, what would happen? Think about it.
I am not a blind adoring follower of Obama's, I see the cult of personality surrounding him currently as a very dangerous thing, and I certainly have my misgivings. I fear for elements of the American constitution under his administration, and I'm not at all optimistic for the American federal budget. When Obama missteps or betrays my values then I will be one of the first to cry out against those actions, however in this case he did something that can only be praised.
So you Republicans who are criticizing this move, in my opinion the only thing you should be mad about is the fact that you didn't do it first.
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