Monday, May 25, 2009

Mr. President, no!

It is time for me to write about President Obama’s decision to keep some GITMO inmates in indefinite detention, and to try some others in military tribunals—tweaking but essentially maintaining a policy that he promised to abolish. What do I think of that?

It’s criminal.

Not the promising to abolish and then reneging. That’s not criminal. Politicians do that all the time. No, I mean the war crimes part. I mean the part for which Dick Cheney and possibly George W. Bush should and actually might stand trial in an international court. That’s the part that is criminal, as in it is a crime.

Do I feel let down or disillusioned? Not really. I didn’t have any illusions that Obama would change the world. Disappointed? Yes. I’m disappointed because the thing I voted for most of all in Obama was a return to the rule of law, to the constitution, away from the illegal big-brother dictatorship of Bush 43. I knew I was getting an intellectual who was also a pragmatic politician, someone who wasn’t particularly liberal but who leaned a bit to the left of center, but I did believe him when he said he was going to close GITMO and return our country to the rule of law. I honestly think he wanted to. I honestly think the JAG convinced him that if we actually tried some people we would lose and have to release men that we knew were terrorists—possibly because we had tortured them and therefore under American law all the evidence we had gotten from them was tainted. And he didn’t want to be responsible for releasing terrorists. Ignore for a moment the fact that holding these men without trial proves us to be hypocrites who have no right to call ourselves a nation of laws, any kind of example to the rest of the world, or any of that garbage. How can we claim to be the leader of the free world when we are not ourselves free, when we refuse to uphold the freedoms we scold others for not upholding?

We can’t.

I’m still not sorry I voted for Obama. I still think he’s the finest and best qualified person to hold the office since Roosevelt. I still believe in him. But I pray he will come to his senses.


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