Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gitmo: Going, going...

"Elections have consequences."

That's what California Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) told her Republican counterpart Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) after wresting the Committee on Environment and Public Works gavel from him in 2006.

The consequences from 2006, when Democrats took control of the Senate and House of Representatives, were borne mostly by former President (sounds good!) George W. Bush who saw the people take his toy (their government) away from him.

But it led to stalemate as Bush vetoed Democratic initiatives and did what he could to push a truncated, but hardly less damaging, agenda through executive orders.

Yesterday, Bush left town and President Barack Obama began his term of governance by freezing those same executive orders.

He also pleased "net roots" lefty outlets and interests like highwayscribery by asking the Guantanamo Bay "war crimes court" to suspend proceedings for 120 days while the new kids on the block get a gander at what's been going on down in that pet project of the prior administration.

"Gitmo" as the camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is called by military types, has always stuck in highwayscribery's craw, given its commitment to democratic processes.

Back in the dark ages of 2005, we did a piece on intellectuals like Nobel Prize recipient Rigoberta Menchu, and language anarchist Noam Chomsky petitioning the United States to close the base, which it has "rented" from Cuba since the end of the Spanish-American War for $2000 a year.

In March of 2006 we presented "Gitmo Girl or Lady Lawyer in Yemen," which amplified the tales garnered by attorney Heather Rogers from her job defending what appeared to be some innocent schlumps rounded up for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and sent to Guantanamo.

Unlike Harold and Kumar, her clients had no luck escaping.

One year later, we provided an accounting of Heather's presentation at a San Diego law school, which was heavy on constitution concerns and no less fascinating then the story of her trip to Yemen as a federal defender.

So the highway scribe is thrilled at Obama's move. Sometimes, a lot of times really, Democrats can disappoint you with their easy swivel from progressive campaign promises to conservative cave-ins once the game clock is on.

Specifically, the suspension applies to four cases involving Sept. 11 conspirators and a Canadian charged with killing an American soldier in Afghanistan.

The military guys melted like butter before Obama's request, which is not surprising given reports few were comfortable with the Kafkavian nightmare the Bush crowd had configured off the Florida coast.

At the same time, the Obama administration (sounds good, too!) circulated a draft plan for closing the dump down and reviewing the cases of 245 people stuck there.

We haven't seen that draft, but one gets the impression President Obama has no problem running their cases and the corresponding evidence through the court system we already use for determining everybody else's innocence or guilt.

There's been a lot of talk about the difficulties facing Obama which he emphasized in his inaugural speech. And while saving a corrupted banking system from its own mistakes may be problematic, returning to the comportment of civilized nations can often be done with the mere stroke of a pen.

So far, so good.

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