President Obama yesterday eliminated the most controversial tools employed by his predecessor against terrorism suspects. With the stroke of his pen, he effectively declared an end to the "war on terror," as President George W. Bush had defined it, signaling to the world that the reach of the U.S. government in battling its enemies will not be limitless.
Key components of the secret structure developed under Bush are being swept away: The military's Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, facility, where the rights of habeas corpus and due process had been denied detainees, will close, and the CIA is now prohibited from maintaining its own overseas prisons. And in a broad swipe at the Bush administration's lawyers, Obama nullified every legal order and opinion on interrogations issued by any lawyer in the executive branch after Sept. 11, 2001.
It’s worth emphasizing again here these steps Obama’s taking effectively limit his own power. That’s extraordinary.
I suspect that not everything John Yoo & Co. wrote was flat-out nuts. Some of the legal opinions issued over the last seven-plus years may come back in some form. This move looks like Obama wanting to send a very clear message that the executive branch will be returning to some semblance of the rule of law, and not governance by executive fiat.
So much for the first 100 days. Obama's first 10 will go down in history as exceedingly important.
The cynic in me is now officially disarmed--at least until we start printing money to pay for a stimulus package likely to cost more than $800 billion...