Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Orders may not reform Gitmo, expert says


Orders may not reform Gitmo, expert says
Jan. 23, 2009

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. policy regarding accused terrorists detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, may not deviate much from what it was under the Bush administration, experts said.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order directing the detention facility be closed within a year. However, observers told Politico that the effect of that order could be blunted.

"I think the administration's commitment to close Guantanamo is heartening; the fact they want to give themselves a year to do it, not so much," said Ramzi Kassem, a Yale Law School lecturer who represents inmate Ahmed Zuhair, who was captured in Pakistan in 2001. "That would bring men like my client to eight years imprisonment for no apparent reason."

Obama ordered Defense Secretary Robert Gates to conduct a review of Guantanamo conditions to ensure they're legal and follow the Geneva Convention. Gates has headed the Pentagon for more than two years and was ultimately responsible for its operations.

"He's not exactly impartial," Kassem said.

Obama's order directing that all agencies follow the Army Field Manual when interrogating prisoners also could be suspect, the Washington publication said. Obama also signed an executive order Thursday creating an interagency commission to examine whether to create "additional or different guidance" for non-military agencies such as the CIA, which could potentially permit harsh interrogation techniques in the future.

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