Friday, January 23, 2009

President Obama Signs Order To Close Guantanamo, Restore American Values

In a move to restore America's values and image, stop the gathering of unreliable information presented by desperate detainees and cease practices that ultimately endanger our troops, President Obama signed an executive order closing Guantanamo in a year.

As shown in the video above, Obama referred to officers standing behind him who "...made a passionate plea that we restore the standards of due process and the core constitutional values that have made this country great, even in the midst of war, even in dealing with terrorism. They made an extraordinary impression on me, they are outstanding Americans who have fought and defended this country and for them to fight on behalf of our constitutional ideals and values I think is exceptional..."

In addition to closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center, Obama also signed orders to "shut down secret overseas CIA prisons, review military war crimes trials and ban the harshest interrogation methods."

Related to the officers who support Obama's executive order is an article that appeared in the Washington Post on October 6, 2008, concerning ceremonies honoring World War II interrogators. 

These American war veterans criticized the Bush administration's embrace of torture and spoke of interrogations that did not follow Dick Cheney's advocacy of working on "the dark side." Instead, they extracted information through actually forming a relationship with their prisoners:

When about two dozen veterans got together yesterday for the first time since the 1940s, many of the proud men lamented the chasm between the way they conducted interrogations during the war and the harsh measures used today in questioning terrorism suspects. 

Back then, they and their commanders wrestled with the morality of bugging prisoners' cells with listening devices. They felt bad about censoring letters. They took prisoners out for steak dinners to soften them up. They played games with them.

"We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture," said Henry Kolm, 90, an MIT physicist who had been assigned to play chess in Germany with Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess.

Blunt criticism of modern enemy interrogations was a common refrain at the ceremonies held beside the Potomac River near Alexandria. Across the river, President Bush defended his administration's methods of detaining and questioning terrorism suspects during an Oval Office appearance.

Several of the veterans, all men in their 80s and 90s, denounced the controversial techniques. And when the time came for them to accept honors from the Army's Freedom Team Salute, one veteran refused, citing his opposition to the war in Iraq and procedures that have been used at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

..."We did it with a certain amount of respect and justice," said John Gunther Dean, 81, who became a career Foreign Service officer and ambassador to Denmark.

The interrogators had standards that remain a source of pride and honor.

"During the many interrogations, I never laid hands on anyone," said George Frenkel, 87, of Kensington. "We extracted information in a battle of the wits. I'm proud to say I never compromised my humanity."

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