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GITMO Contradictions (?)

Over the last week or so there have been some interesting, if not contradictory happenings when it comes to the War on Terror(ism) and the ways in which the new Administration will either adhere to, or alter the policies, practices and procedures of the previous one.

First, there was the question of military tribunals for prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. In an Executive Order signed on January 22, 2009, President Obama declared that he would follow through on his campaign promise to close the detention center in Cuba. That is all well and good. But later that week, the military judge at Guantanamo contradicted the order and declared that the trial of one of the detainees suspected in the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole would go ahead as planned.

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi citizen of Yemeni descent, is facing arraignment Feb. 9 on capital charges relating to the al-Qaeda strike on the Cole in Yemen that killed 17 U.S. service members and injured 50 others in October 2000. The chief military judge at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Army Col. James Pohl, said that he found the government's arguments "unpersuasive" and that the case will go ahead because "the public interest in a speedy trial will be harmed by the delay in the arraignment."

Of course and expectedly, the surprising decision by Col. Pohl was reversed by the Administration and the charges against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were dropped.

In the same Executive Order, there was an interpretation that the President would allow the continuation of what are referred to as extraordinary renditions. However, during the second day of his confirmation hearings, DCI designate Leon Panetta made it clear that he questioned the value of these "enhanced interrogation techniques" (as described by outgoing DCI Michael Hayden), and would evaluate these "harsh" techniques.
Panetta retracted the assertion he made Thursday that the CIA had sent prisoners to other countries to be tortured. He also clarified the Obama administration's stance on the use of so-called "renditions," or secret transfers of prisoners to other countries.

The agency will no longer send prisoners to its own secret detention sites, which are being closed, Panetta said.

But "there is a second kind of rendition, where individuals are turned over to a country for purposes of questioning," he said. "There were efforts by the CIA to seek and to receive assurances that those individuals would not be mistreated."

Panetta made it clear that those renditions could continue, largely unchanged from Bush-era policies.

"Using renditions, we may very well direct individuals to third countries," Panetta said. "I will seek the same kinds of assurances that they will not be treated inhumanely."

On September 11, 2001, I saw the acrid smoke rising in the sky to my west, and knew that the World had changed. Soon, there was the smoldering of the Pentagon. Other instances and examples of inhumanity litter the recent history of the last 7 ½ years.