Saturday, January 24, 2009

Obama's First Week In Office

Well, if nothing else, Obama's made it quite plain in the last few days that whatever the "norm" used to be under Bush II, it is now over.

In ordering the shutdown of Guantanmo Bay, and stripping the CIA of their "black prisons" and 'torture tourism' programs, he has signalled that the United States is emerging from one of its darkest periods on the world stage.

Much of what Obama has done is really just the beginning of tearing down the secrecy and self-serving policies of Bush II / Cheney. I think that Bush II did more damage to the United States than anyone realizes yet. It will probably take Obama's first year to even begin the process of untangling the knots and disarming the booby traps that Bush II, and probably to a greater degree Cheney, created within the structure and operation of government. I hope that Obama will continue to repeal the various odious 'executive orders' and other rules that Bush II cooked up while sitting in the oval office which are destructive not only to the United States as a political power, but to its citizens as well.

If one thing became clear in the last 8 years it was that Bush II and Cheney were not - definitely not - open to the public about what they were doing. Nor did they have any respect for the fundamental principles of the rule of law and government openness. Obama has made it clear that he sees things quite differently.

While I do not expect to agree with everything that this president does, I have to give him credit for tackling some pretty odious issues head on within days of being sworn in.

(I see that the hand wringing over the disposal of the inmates at Guantanamo Bay has already begun. Of course, they only have half of the facts, and are completely ignoring this Presidential Order which is clearly intended to address that question in as reasonable way as possible.

What to do with the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay is not an easy question to answer - few of them can be charged with any crimes under US law. That means they should be released. However, there's good reason to believe that many of them have been badly mistreated while detained and interrogated. There is a very real possibility that the US finds itself 'holding a tiger by the tail' right now. Some of those detainees are going to go away quietly, but some will have become hardened in their hatred of the United States as a result of their treatment - they are apt as not to lash out and bite - hard. That is far from the last problem that these detainees present. Many of them are effectively homeless today. The countries that they called home deny their citizenship for fear of being accused of being complicit, if citizenship can even be established for them - far from an easily solved problem)

No comments: