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Unfortunately I believe that we are limited in what we can focus on. I think that if we proceed with the partisan sideshow of prosecuting Bush admin. officials, healthcare will get lost in the brouhaha.
— Posted by denamom, Obama's Quandary...

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The End of the 'Black' Prisons

POSTED: 03:00 PM ET, 01/22/2009 by The Editors

In the three years since Post reporter Dana Priest revealed the existence of an international system of "black" prisons set up by the CIA after the 9/11 attacks, the roiling worldwide debate over how to treat suspected terrorists has grown to overshadow most other aspects of U.S. counterterrorism.

President Barack Obama today took a major step toward closing that chapter of history by prohibiting the CIA from holding detainees in such prisons. He also addressed the question of torture, ordering that interrogation standards in U.S. facilities worldwide be limited to those outlined in the Army Field manual.

Priest's articles in November 2005 (which went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting) disclosed that at various times the CIA operated "black sites" in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe.

Her articles produced an international outcry, but the Bush administration remained committed to the program, as well as to other controversial anti-terrorist policies such as widened electronic eavesdropping and maintaining a fleet of aircraft to move detainees around the globe. Bush, Vice President Cheney and their advisers believe the policies were necessary and said that they had averted other terrorist attacks.

In taking on the task of counterterrorism, the Obama administration faces a raft of leftover, sticky problems. For example: how to deal with Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, an al Qaeda operative accused of being the architect of the Yemen bombing of the U.S.S. Cole who was captured and taken to one of the black prisons. CIA Director Michael Hayden has confirmed that Nashiri was one of three "high-value detainees" who was subjected to waterboarding. As Newsweek reports, Nashiri's defense lawyers argue that because he was tortured, the U.S. government cannot bring a credible case against him.

Today's Obama orders reiterate the rules of the Geneva Conventions on treatment of prisoners and, the White House said, prohibit reliance on any Justice Department or other legal advice on interrogation that was issued between Sept. 11, 2001, and Jan. 20, 2009.

"We believe that the Army Field Manual reflects the best judgment of our military, that we can abide by a rule that says we don't torture, but that we can still effectively attain the intelligence that we need," Obama said. The order not only follows through on a campaign commitment, he said, but reflects "an understanding that dates back to our founding fathers, that we are willing to observe core standards of conduct, not just when it's easy, but also when it's hard."

Former detainees, human-rights advocates and government officials around the world have welcomed Obama's decision to close the black prisons and the facility at Guantanamo Bay, saying it helps restore their faith in the United States.

By The Editors |  January 22, 2009; 3:00 PM ET
Previous: GAO Pegs Top Government Challenges of '09 | Next: Death on Wall Street, Fact and Rumor


Please email us to report offensive comments.

I understand the fears of people who live in states that contain prisons and do not want the terrorists put in these prisons, but we have prisons filled with rapists, murderers, serial killers and psychos, and we are kept safe from them. Consider Charles Manson. If our prisons are not secure, then they should be made secure. Personally I would like the terrorists incarcerated in Texas and whatever state Mr. Cheney finally settles in; put them in cells and secure the doors with screen-door hooks.

Posted by: beccajo | January 22, 2009 5:03 PM

I'm not a believer, but for this I can offer up:

God bless Barack Obama. Here at least is a Christian who acts like one.

Posted by: bigbrother1 | January 22, 2009 5:19 PM

Good for Obama!

Let's hope he continues to restore our country's honor by reversing the lawless Bush policies and that he ignores our shrill beltway crowd who desperately want to keep the status quo.

Posted by: pmorlan1 | January 22, 2009 6:15 PM

I remain perplexed by the alleged 'inability' to lawfully prosecute about 20 of the over 230 inmates at Guantanamo, due to how APPARENTLY self-incriminating evidence was extracted from them under torture.

Even if that is the case, under Wong Sun v. U.S. 371 US 471 [US Supreme Court 1963] the "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine," only evidence obtained in violation of the law and what PROXIMATELY flows therefrom thereafter is suppressed. Not all evidence is suppressed, especially evidence from 'independent sources' which, arguably, could be virtually identical..

Nevertheless, in a second Supreme Court case, namely Harrison v. US, 392 US 219 [US Supreme Court 1968] a further exception was created where a Defendant voluntarily elects to testify in the criminal proceeding where he/she is being tried and then LIES about material facts that have been previously suppressed for having been obtained in violation of the law.

In that narrow exception, the previously suppressed material can NOW be used to impeach his/her testimony. [I claim no better or worse memory in this regard than the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court - LOL]

Thus it is VERY HARD TO BELIEVE that the only evidence against these 20 detainees at GITMO was ALL obtained from ONLY illegal methods/sources ???????? And even if it was, there are allegedly 'heroes of the Muslim revolution, by whatever name, WHO THEREFORE WILL LIKELY INSIST ON TAKING THE STAND OR FIRING THEIR COUNSEL FOR TRYING TO KEEP THEM OFF THE STAND, OR WHO MAY INSIST IN PLEADING GUILTY SO THEY CAN TELL THE WORLD THEIR STORY.

EITHER WAY, by means of impeachment via Harrison, or by guilty plea [not coerced -- does GOD coerce ???] there is a criminal case if they are EXTREMELY dangerous.

Posted by: | January 22, 2009 7:49 PM

"there is a criminal case if they are EXTREMELY dangerous."

How? Who says they are "Extremely dangerous".

This is exactly the point. Evidence is evidence, and that is clearly defined. Hearsay is hearsay. Opinion is opinion.

Obama says "Same rules for everyone. Those are our ideals and our standards."

I TOTALLY agree with him. I'm an American citizen who had lived in Africa and China under Bush, and will live in the Middle East next year. I feel a LOT safer now with Obama as our President.

Posted by: terryking228 | January 22, 2009 8:28 PM

terryking228 wrote:

"there is a criminal case if they are EXTREMELY dangerous."

How? Who says they are "Extremely dangerous".

I think that you have answered your own question.

It is the EVIDENCE that says they are extremely dangerous and while everyone in GITMO may not necessarily be EXTREMELY dangerous, would YOU go to another country out of usually ZEALOUS religious beliefs to bear arms against well trained, fed, financed and armed professional soldiers [no draftees these days, you know.]

Truth be told, MOST FOLKS who aren't either dangerous or extremely dangerous would NOT do that, but if they weren't before they went, they are when they get done.

A bit of 'common horse sense' is required here.

Posted by: | January 22, 2009 11:01 PM

It would be nice and right if al-Nashiri was held accountable for helping to murder our son. Its amazing how fast some people can forget who the real enemy is. But I bet their short memories would come back real fast after another 9/11. And then would you see and hear all this feel good talk for the men who murdered innconet americans in coldblood. No. Of cousre not.
Reality Bites Big time.

Posted by: bobster67 | January 23, 2009 12:16 AM

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