Blog of Rights

Closing Gitmo and Ending Torture the Right Way

By Suzanne Ito, ACLU at 7:35pm

Last night, Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU's National Security Project, was on The Rachel Maddow Show talking about President Obama's three executive orders and torture policy going forward.

Andy Worthington, who just guest-posted on the ACLU blog on inauguration day about the Guantánamo child soldier cases, penned an excellent piece on Huffington Post today that nicely distills the new Gitmo issues now before us. He writes:

… I look forward to further detailed analysis from the White House regarding the secret memos and presidential orders that purported to justify the Bush administration's flight from the law and its attempts to justify torture.
We do too, Andy.

Andy also points to the excellent Alternet article by Jeff Kaye about Appendix M of the Army Field Manual, which allows for some torture techniques that are not in compliance with the Geneva Conventions. (Jameel touches on this in his Rachel Maddow interview as well.)

Now, don't get us wrong: we're thrilled that President Obama has moved so quickly to end torture and close Gitmo. But our work isn't done. Before the ink of the executive orders signature dried, an uproar over the Guantánamo detainees ensued. President Obama's opponents are using a familiar fear-mongering tactic: they say any mainland detention facility that holds former Gitmo detainees will become instant terrorism targets. Not so, Glenn Greenwald writes today:

Both pre- and post-9/11, there are numerous other individuals who have been convicted in U.S. civilian courts of various acts relating to terrorism inspired by Islamic radicalism, including many alleged to be high-level Terrorists, who are now serving sentences inside the U.S., in U.S. prisons.

Moreover, terrorists accused of being members of Al Qaeda and affiliated groups have been successfully tried in the regular courts of other countries -- including Britain and Spain -- and currently sit in those countries' regular prisons, without a whiff of a problem. If it were really the goal of Terrorists to attack American prisons where their members are incarcerated and if they were actually capable of doing that, they already have a long list of "targets" and have had such a list for two decades.
So clearly, our work isn't done. So today, thank President Obama for his swift action. Tomorrow, it's back to work. It's a long road to the restoration of the rule of law, and we're ready to go the distance.

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