Friday, 15 May 2009

Obama risks wrath of his liberal base

From The Independent, UK, 16 May 2009

David Usborne, US editor: "Decision to revive military trials for terror suspects welcomed by Republicans – and lambasted by human rights activists".
"Although his plan will modify the tribunals in an effort to expand the legal rights of the defendants, the decision has already proved controversial. One of Mr Obama's first acts as President was to announce the closing of Guantanamo Bay within a year and the suspending of the tribunals which drew criticism around the world. As a candidate, he favoured turning to America's federal courts or the traditional military judicial system to try the cases.

But pressure has been building on Mr Obama to explain what he planned to do with the roughly 241 detainees at Guantanamo – and particularly how he would proceed with the 20-odd cases due to be handled under the commission system set up by an act of Congress in 2006. He remains squeezed by competing priorities: to repudiate the past Bush policies while not compromising national security. "
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Obama's Guantanamo balancing act

From BBC News-
by James Coomarasamy , Washington

Barack Obama's decisions to try to block the release of photos allegedly showing abuse of prisoners in US custody, to avoid the pursuit of Bush administration officials who may have sanctioned torture and - now - to restore military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay - suggest that, on contentious national security issues, he plans to take a middle path.

Depending on your point of view, the president should either be applauded for his responsible, pragmatic approach or criticised for reneging on one of his key campaign promises: to turn his back on many of the practices used by the Bush administration, as it prosecuted its "War on Terror".

Of course, all US leaders encounter the same conflict, when campaign rhetoric runs up against the reality of the security briefings they are given as commander-in-chief.
But, having been handed two wars - and a highly contentious foreign policy legacy - this was always going to cause Mr Obama particular headaches.

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