Janine Zacharia and Justin Blun; 19/7/09
The US may not be able to move all eligible detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to other countries before President Barack Obama’s January deadline for closing the prison, an Obama Administration official has admitted. The effort to resettle prisoners has been hampered by legislation that bars their release in the US until September 30. American diplomats, who are trying to persuade other countries to take detainees before the deadline, are being asked why they should accept them when the US won’t. On his second full day in office, Mr Obama signed an order to close the Guantanamo detention facility within one year.
A secret that sold out the President
Tom Teepen, 19/7/09; The Sun Herald; Cox Newspapers; No Internet Text
Yes, yes, I know: the George Bush presidency is dead and buried, and it’s time to stop digging it up just to berate it anew. The problem is, these icky, mouldering hands keep coming up from the grave. Bush administration zombies still walk the Earth. The latest: CIA director Leon Panetta has revealed that the Bush administration was running a secret counterterrorism program for years that it kept from Congress. When Panetta found out about it, he ended it and informed the House and Senate intelligence committees.
Washington scuttlebutt suggests it may have been more extensive than the sweeping electronic snooping the National SecurityAgency was caught conducting in 2006, without warrants, into Americans’ overseas phone calls and emails.
Should Congress formally investigate? If so, by which committee, how publicly and with what protection for intelligence methods that should be shielded for potential later, legitimate use?
What seems undisputed is that this is another gift from then vice- president Dick Cheney, the wizard of Bush’s dark Oz, and Cheney’s consigliere, his aide David Addington.
Much of what went badly awry in the Bush White House traces wholly or substantially to Cheney’s office — the politically vengeful exposure of an undercover CIA operative,
detainee abuse and torture, claims that the president could rule virtually by fiat in the name of security, taking and holding prisoners on his say-so alone.
Witness President Obama struggling to shut down the detention facility at Guantanamo but trapped by the very past there that makes a shutdown essential.
The prison, and all its abuses, remain an undertow on US foreign policy worldwide. Some prisoners are still too dangerous to release, yet with evidence against them tainted by torture, legitimate trials are impossible and domestic politics bars imprisoning any on the mainland, even in super-maximum-security prisons.
Now there’s this further business of a program that was kept from Congress reportedly on Cheney’s orders, although the law says the intelligence committees must be “kept fully and currently informed” of intelligence activities, “including any significant anticipated” activity.
The law allows for protecting “exceptionally sensitive matters“, a potential dodge but effectively finessed in the past by limiting congressional notice to the Republican and Democrat leaders of the intelligence committees.
The Bush White House scrapped even that accommodation.
If after 9 /11 Bush and Cheney had trusted American values and customs and just followed established law and proven practices, the nation would be stronger abroad today and far less conflicted and distracted at home. And Americans wouldn’t be stalked by their administration’s marauding undead.