Obama blocked by Democrats

The President lost the vote to close down Guantanamo Bay. It is a reminder of just how difficult it is proving, for him to be different from President Bush.

I always felt he was going to be very similar to his predecessor in policy in major areas. It was clear he would continue with the high spend high borrowing policies of Mr Bush. It was stated he would intensify Bush’s war in Afghanistan, as they both wound down the more intense operations in Iraq. His bank rescues and monetary policies have built on the wobbly legacy of his predecessor in similar ways.

It was clear he would be different over issues like abortion, and I hoped he was going to be different over detention without trial. Today, five months in to his first Presidential year, he is no further forward in closing down Guantanamo. To some Guantanamo is a symbol of the West’s willingness to be tough. To others it is a bad departure from our principles of liberty, where people are innocent until proven guilty, where they have a right to a fair trial. The President needs to sort this out urgently, to show he is the change he promised.

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11 Comments

  1. Blank Xavier
    Posted May 21, 2009 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    All contracts must be voluntary and well-informed; the exception is self-defence.

    In ethical terms, the ideal of jailing people is fine. It is an invocation of the self-defence clause.

    The problem with Guantanamo is that if you’re going to invoke self-defence, you have to be able to *show* it really is self-defence and you’re not just making it up.

    If a State can jail people without showing self-defence, then it is simply imposing non-voluntary contracts. It becomes the unethical party.

    That seems to me to be exactly the situation with Guantanamo Bay.

    The basic principle is sacrosanct. It is worth infinitely more than we gain by imprisoning any number of alleged terrorists.

  2. Robert
    Posted May 21, 2009 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    To my mind the Guantanamo issue is all about respect for the rule of law. This is the foundation of western government.

    Sometimes it produces difficult consequences but the alternatives are always worse. If there is no evidence to prosecute these people they should be freed, otherwise they should be tried properly in a properly constituted court.

    I have always thought that at some point Obama will have to take on Congress and face them down (particularly his own party). This seems to be the issue but does the President have the force of character required?

  3. Mike Stallard
    Posted May 21, 2009 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    People in glass houses…..

  4. Paul Geddes
    Posted May 21, 2009 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Having campaigned by accusing McCain of wanting the Presidency to undertake a third Bush term, it would be horribly ironic if Obama ends up being the one who fulfils his own prophesy. A lesson for you and Dave!

  5. Ian Jones
    Posted May 21, 2009 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    No doubt New Labour is hoping to do the same to the Tories when they get in. If the economy is recovering then the time for major action will have passed and you will be stuck cutting at the edges or lose the electorate.

    Time is quickly running away which is why Brown is holding out.

  6. Stuart Fairney
    Posted May 22, 2009 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    Fox reported today that former secretary of state, Condi Rice is to undergo waterboarding to prove this is not torture.

    Whilst I have some considerable regard for Dr Rice, and if the report is to be believed, considerable regard for her bravery, I cannot see how volunteering to undergo something proves it is not torture?

    I’m no expert, but I reckon I could waterboard someone for less than 24 hours and make them confess, yes indeed it IS torture.

  7. Adrian Peirson
    Posted May 22, 2009 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Put then on Trial or Let them go, Does Western civilisation have Laws or do we make it all up as we go.

  8. Robert Eve
    Posted May 22, 2009 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    What an excellent speech by Dick Cheney yesterday.

    He knows what it takes to defend his country.

  9. Adrian Peirson
    Posted May 22, 2009 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Obama, Bush and Cheney work for the same people, it’s all a charade.

    The Obama Deception

    http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=7886780711843120756&ei=OeDgSfSYG46y-AbknsW0DQ&q=the+obama+deception&hl=en

  10. Bazman
    Posted May 22, 2009 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    I must add my preference of Dairy Milk to Galaxy, which I do find to be sugary the winner.

  11. David Herr
    Posted May 23, 2009 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    The problem with treating the Guantanamo detainees as ordinary criminal defendants, is that they are not ordinary criminal defendants. They are illegal combatants, wearing no uniform on the battlefield, and not serving in any state’s armed forces, and therefore outside of international law and the Geneva Conventions.

    In an ordinary criminal case, there are strict standards for maintaining the chain of custody of evidence; witnesses must be exposed to the defendant; and the law enforcement officers who investigated the case and effected the arrest must testify. Those conditions are impossible to meet on the battlefield. Indeed, in many cases, the soldiers who took the detainees prisoner, are now dead. Moreover, to the extent some detainees were apprehended on the word of Afghan civilians, to expose them on the witness stand would be tantamount to slaughtering their entire families (since that’s how Al Queda and the Taliban play the game).

    The way I see it, if someone wants the advantages of being a stateless, army-less combatant, one has to take the disadvantages. In these cases, it is detention without trial. The mistake was accepting their surrender on the battlefield in the first instance — since they are outside of international law, their surrender was ineffectual, and they should have all died on the battlefield, and gone on to their 72 under-aged virgins.

    And as for the rule of law, anyone who seriously examined Obama could not be surprised by his subverting it to political expediency. This is a man steeped in the teachings of Saul Alinsky, the radical leftist who inspired ACORN, and who believed in acquiring and using political power to plunder, law be damned. If you don’t believe me, ask a “secured” creditor in Chrysler or General Motors. Now that he has seen some push-back on the Guantanamo issue, he has backed off, sensing that the risk no longer merits the reward. But at least he sounds smooth while dispatching yet another campaign promise.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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