New questions are being raised about the Obama administration’s commitment to fully reverse Bush administration policies relating to the so-called war on terror. Two weeks ago, President Obama signed executive orders to end torture and extraordinary rendition and shut down Guantanamo.
On Wednesday, a British High Court ruled that evidence of British resident Binyam Mohamed’s extraordinary rendition and torture at Guantanamo had to remain secret, because the Bush administration had threatened it would stop intelligence sharing with Britain if the evidence was disclosed. The court opinion adds that the position of the United States “remains the same, even after the making of the Executive Orders by President Obama on 22 January 2009.”
The Los Angeles Times also reported Sunday that the Obama administration has decided not to end the controversial policy of rendition, which gives the CIA authority to abduct anyone throughout the world and secretly transfer them to another country.
The report has sparked a number of debates. Scott Horton, the legal affairs contributor to Harper’s magazine, wrote in his Harper’s blog, “No Comment,” that theLos Angeles Times “just got punked.” He points to the difference between the renditions program in place since the George H.W. Bush administration and the extraordinary renditions program introduced after September 11, 2001 and shut down by Obama’s executive order.
Today, we host a debate on rendition and the future of counterterrorism efforts under President Obama. Scott Horton joins us here in the firehouse studio, and we’re also joined here by Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
I want to start off by just understanding what it is that President Obama signed. Michael Ratner, let’s start with you. What are these executive orders? What have they ended? What have they kept in place?