Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hell Freezes Over

Obama has ordered a 120 day freeze in trials at Guantanamo.

Hell has frozen over.

The executive order was filed in Guantanamo at 8:51 PM Tuesday, the day of his inauguration. Obama froze the detainees' trials before he went to the evening's inaugural balls and celebrations.

In other good news, he has also ordered the closing of the Guantanamo prison within a year. A blue-ribbon commission will be formed to investigate closely the situation of each of the 245 detainees and to recommend a fate for each. Of those already released, one is already suing. The others may well be expected to do so. Whether they then contribute their gains to a fund for old Kalashnikovs or to a fund for suing the retiring President will be interesting to see.

In other good news, Obama has ordered the CIA to close all "black" foreign prisons. It's unclear where the prisoners will be going, but Obama has not yet ordered closure of the massive prison at Bagram, the air base in Afghanistan. Pressure to close this prison as well will undoubtedly develop. Bring the prisoners here to America so we can see what's been happening to them, try them for what they did, sentence them to time served, and send them home with a dollar and a smile. And wait for the legal papers. We are so going to get sued...

Lawsuits will ruin those members of the outgoing administration who normalized torture if the criminal justice system doesn't get them first. Also, if the criminal justice system doesn't go after them, the other countries that are signatories to the Geneva Convention are obligated to do so. If Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, Tenet, Powell, Ashcroft, or any other of those who signed the CIA's permission slip for each and every major act of torture - as they did - step foot outside this country, they at this moment risk being the target of a manhunt. Of course they would be brought in alive.

Meanwhile, it turns out that the government has been listening in on all of us. Even modestly radical bloggers who have no readers. Those of us who want to be on record, they even have been listening to. At least they've been getting that part of it right. But they were also listening to phone calls of newsmen, trying to catch whistleblowers before whistles were blown. Trying to seal the leaks in their overloaded, sinking, ship. Senator Jay Rockefeller of the Intelligence Committee is sure that they spied on him. This would seem probable. Explains the spy agencies' unlimited, unaudited funding.

Each day we learn more about the world Bush had readied for his third term. Failure of the government - after 8 years of intentional neglect - would have mandated his managerial rule. But the loss of the House in 2006 hit him hard, and he never recovered.

Suddenly, everyone in America is wondering what the government thinks it knows about them. It should tell us.

In nicer news, this afternoon President Obama, Veep Biden, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to staffers at the State Department about their expectations for a new world united by diplomacy. Where the military was used in the past to solve problems that could not be solved by diplomacy, we will now use diplomacy to solve problems that can't be solved militarily.

Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has signed with the William Morris talent agency.

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