OBAMA: For example, Vice President Cheney I think continues to defend what he calls extraordinary measures or procedures when it comes to interrogations and from my view waterboarding is torture. I have said that under my administration we will not torture.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about them taking that to the next step. Right now the CIA has a special program, would you require that that program -- basically every government interrogation program be under the same standard, be in accordance with the army field manual?
OBAMA: My general view is that our United States military is under fire and has huge stakes in getting good intelligence. And if our top army commanders feel comfortable with interrogation techniques that are squarely within the boundaries of rule of law, our constitution and international standards, then those are things that we should be able to (INAUDIBLE)
STEPHANOPOULOS: So no more special CIA program?
OBAMA: I'm not going to lay out a particular program because again, I thought that Dick Cheney's advice was good, which is let's make sure we know everything that's being done. But the interesting thing George was that during the campaign, although John McCain and I had a lot of differences on a lot of issues, this is one where we didn't have a difference, which is that it is possible for us to keep the American people safe while still adhering to our core values and ideals and that's what I intend to carry forward in my administration.
Well, McCain manage to find both sides of the enhance interrogation debate, first advocating for the Army field manual as the sole standard and then opposing the Feinstein amendment that would have legislated just that.
Ah, well. Ms Feinstein commenced to backpedal from her own amendment after Obama's ascension made it likely that her posturing would actually become the law of the land. And now Obama, despite having campaigned on the position that the Army field manual is the gold standard, now can't bring himself to reaffirm that seemingly simple position.
My guess - eventually and to much fanfare Obama will ban waterboarding specifically. Much more quietly he will allow other CIA "enhanced" techniques.
AND ANOTHER NIP FROM REALITY: Gitmo won't be closed right away because, well, bad guys are being held there:
STEPHANOPOULOS: You also agreed on Guantanamo when you say you want to shut it down. You say you're still going to shut it down. Is it turning out to be harder than you expected, will you get that done in the first 100 days?
OBAMA: It is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize and we are going to get it done but part of the challenge that you have is that you have a bunch of folks that have been detained, many of whom who may be very dangerous who have not been put on trial or have not gone through some adjudication. And some of the evidence against them may be tainted even though it's true. And so how to balance creating a process that adheres to rule of law, habeas corpus, basic principles of Anglo American legal system, by doing it in a way that doesn't result in releasing people who are intent on blowing us up.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So not necessarily first 100 days.
OBAMA: That's a challenge. I think it's going to take some time and our legal teams are working in consultation with our national security apparatus as we speak to help design exactly what we need to do. But I don't want to be ambiguous about this. We are going to close Guantanamo and we are going to make sure that the procedures we set up are ones that abide by our constitution. That is not only the right thing to do but it actually has to be part of our broader national security strategy because we will send a message to the world that we are serious about our values.
The Times alerted their readers to this intrusion of reality on the Saturday after New Years:
The Pentagon, in transferring three Algerian prisoners to Bosnia on Dec. 16, said some 250 inmates remained at Guantánamo. About 60 have been cleared for release but cannot be sent to their home countries, mostly out of concern that they would be tortured or persecuted. They are from countries including Algeria, China, Libya and Tunisia.
“Departure of these detainees,” the Pentagon said, “is subject to ongoing discussions between the United States and other nations.”
The US has been talking to Australia but seems to have come to the end of the road there. However, some European countries may step us:
In early December, Portugal said it was willing to resettle some of the 60 cleared detainees and urged other European countries to accept some as well. A couple of weeks later, Germany said it would consider doing so if the camp were closed.
What a great opportunity for Hillary to display her diplomatic skills. Her basic message to our allies would be this - we are holding a bunch of dangerous men but the evidence against them does not meet contemporary standards of Western jurisprudence. We can't in good conscience send them back to their home countries, we can't try them, we are embarrassed to be holding them without trial, and not even Mike Dukakis would cut these global Willie Hortons loose, so could you take them from us and figure this out?
Should be an easy sell. One wonders what is taking so long.