Look Who Loves Guantánamo Now

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on May 9, 2009

Yet more evidence that the Obama Administration doesn’t think the Bush Administration was all that bad:

The Obama administration is preparing to revive the system of military commissions established at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, under new rules that would offer terrorism suspects greater legal protections, government officials said.

The rules would block the use of evidence obtained from coercive interrogations, tighten the admissibility of hearsay testimony and allow detainees greater freedom to choose their attorneys, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The military commissions have allowed the trial of terrorism suspects in a setting that favors the government and protects classified information, but they were sharply criticized during the administration of President George W. Bush. “By any measure, our system of trying detainees has been an enormous failure,” then-candidate Barack Obama said in June 2008.

In one of its first acts, the Obama administration obtained a 120-day suspension of the military commissions; that will expire May 20. Human rights groups had interpreted the suspension as the death knell for military commissions and expected the transfer of cases to military courts martial or federal courts.

Officials said yesterday that the Obama administration will seek a 90-day extension of the suspension as early as next week. It would subsequently restart the commissions on American soil, probably at military bases, according to a lawyer briefed on the plan.

To credit their consistency, the very people outside of government who opposed the Bush Administration’s use of military commissions are speaking out against the Obama Administration’s reliance on military commissions as well. But as I have written before, that doesn’t disguise the fact that after grandstanding against the use of military commissions, the Administration is now embracing them.

“Change We Can Believe In”? Well, not so much, it seems.

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