My laptops got a virus: can Obama fix it?
Ive written in this blog before that Im a very cautious Obama-ite. (Booo!)
With due acknowledgment of the historic and symbolic significance of a black American of (half) Kenyan parentage actually becoming US president (a big change), this doesnt automatically equate to a US administration with progressive, pro-human rights values.
Ok, the mood music is pleasing. Closing Guantánamo: right, Im good with that. Denouncing torture: yeah, I can go along with this. Obamas choice for attorney general saying that waterboarding is torture: ok, like it (marked improvement on Cheneys infamous dunk comment).
So thats all fine then? Not quite. Listen beyond the mood music and there are actually some not-so-pleasing political noises out there.
Obamas recently been talking up the difficulty of closing Guantánamo (see more from me on this on the Telegraph blog site recently) and while were getting clear signals that day one of the 44th presidency is going to produce an executive order to close the camp, we dont know when or how.
Meanwhile, this past week alone has seen two new allegations of GITMO torture both, significantly, from the US authorities side! See this BBC clip of Daniel Arendt, a young former US soldier at Guantánamo, talking about psychotic guards enjoying kicking caged prisoners in the face. And see the Washington Post where Susan Crawford, Guantánamo convening authority in charge of military commissions, categorically announces that shes looked at the case files of a key Saudi prisoner Mohammad al-Qahtani and its clear hes been tortured.
What does Mr Obama have to say about this? Answer: not much. Hes talked of tainted evidence (a coy reference to torture) but hasnt said that US torturers (and those authorising the abuse) will be rooted out and punished. No word about redress for those whove been tortured either.
Other silences: US security detainees in Afghanistan or in secret locations (ships, hidden prisons); the rendition programme; use of drones and war on terror killings in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere to name but a few.
Ok, hes not even president yet and all of these might come. Maybe Im too much of a natural born sceptic and I should hold my peace. In fact, I WILL! Lets wait and see. Meanwhile Amnestys got a 100 days campaign underway where were monitoring actual progress during Mr Os honeymoon period. Please check this out.
Actually maybe Barack, much-praised and almost beatified in some quarters, will wave a magic wand and solve the financial crisis (perhaps over a crispy credit crunch lunch), bring about world peace and ward off global warming. Or maybe he wont watch our zappy new viral to find out.
Hey Mr President, my laptops playing up. Can you fix that too..
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