According to the New York Times, President Barack Obama is set to sign executive orders that order not only the closing of the indefinite detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but also the closing of the network of secret CIA prisons around the world that service a similar function of indefinite detention. Thanks to the expansion of closings to those CIA prisons, Obama’s executive order marks not only the closing of Guantanamo in a nominal sense, but also the closing of the age of Guantanamo-like practices by the United States. In addition, Obama’s executive orders will require the CIA to abstain from coercion and torture in their interrogations. Taken together, these moves by President Obama will move the United States back toward compliance with the 6th and 8th amendments to the United States Constitution.
I have remaining concerns. Will the shutting of these prisons result in the definitive ending of the practice of indefinite detention without charge, or will detainees be simply shoved into prisons for incarceration without conviction on criminal charges? Civil libertarians will have to keep a close eye on the fate of detainees.
Despite those concerns, I am jubilant that in his first days in office Barack Obama is using his presidential power to yank this country in real and significant ways back toward constitutionality. This is change I can believe in, and I am pleased as punch.