Gitmo Heave-Ho

Obama's promised overhaul of detainee policy arrives

Two days into office and it looks like Barack Obama actually meant a lot of that stuff he said when he was running for president. For example, remember how on the campaign trail he kept saying things like, "I do not like torture, I will shut down Guantanamo, I will not have a bunch of memo-goblins hidden away typing out legally fragile nonsense that gets rescinded as soon as it sees the light of day," and so on? So far, his hiring decisions and one very important executive order actually suggest he believed that stuff.

In his second full day on the job, President Obama signed an executive order to shut down Guantanamo. Critics have warned that this will be a long and difficult process, which it will be, and an executive order is certainly far from a fait accompli, but it is also far better than doing nothing at all -- which is what many critics would have liked.

And in the hiring department, he's not giving conservatives a lot of hope for "continuity" with the previous administration. Marty Lederman, a law professor and former legal blogger who has written at length against the Bush administration's torture policy, just got appointed to John Yoo's old job as Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel. (Yoo will be remembered as the chief memo-goblin who once told a radio show, "the original vision of the US Constitution is very flexible in wartime.")

So far, the only faint shred of hope for Bush administration supporters lies in a rather thin quote from Obama's interview with George Stephanopoulos a few weekends ago. Dick Cheney had suggested that Obama should "sit down and find out precisely what it is we did and how we did it" before implementing his own counterterrorism policies.

When Obama said, "I think that was pretty good advice, which is I should know what's going on before we make judgments and that we shouldn't be making judgments on the basis of incomplete information or campaign rhetoric," some conservatives seemed to think this meant he agreed with Dick Cheney. But right now, it's looking more like his commitment to "know what's going on before we make judgments" means actually investigating how the previous administration formulated and justified its counterterrorism policy -- and then implementing a complete overhaul of the whole embarrassing and broken works.

Sara K. Smith writes for Wonkette.

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