His quick-fire executive orders directed at Guantanamo Bay, secret CIA detention facilities around the world and the practice of interrogation methods that most would view as plain torture were a repudiation of an important part of the Bush administration’s position on how to thwart America’s enemies, real and perceived.
Apart from approaching these issues from a human rights perspective, Obama and his advisers were of the view that the indefinite holding of individuals at Guantanamo and other places, along with the apparent approval of coercive interrogation were proving to be counter productive.
The closure of Guantanamo is going to take place over the next year and will involve the release of a number of individuals whose lives, it is said, will be in jeopardy if returned to their own countries.
There is, for sure, a certain irony to all this given that their physical safety was actually a better bet in a prison condemned and abhorred by so many people, rights groups and governments.
Clearly, there will need to be a lot of follow-up work in these cases. It’s not just a matter of opening the gates and letting everyone return home. Guantanamo is no Stalag 17.
The president’s view that the detention of individuals at the U.S. base on Cuba’s southern tip gives us a clue as to his broader attitude towards the treatment of people caught up in conflict, not always by choice.
With that in mind it is to be hoped that as the new administration proceeds, some thought will be given to the continuing plight of what Irish America has come to know as the deportees.
Simply put, these individuals have been living a limbo-life existence for years after turning their backs on the Ireland of the Troubles and striking out for a new life in the United States.
Most of them are married to American citizens. All have been living within the laws of this country and some have started families.
The immediate danger of deportation was lifted during the Clinton administration and the Bush administration did not seek to turn back that development. And yet, none of the deportees can wake up on a given morning and be absolutely certain that he will still be on American soil by bedtime.
The case that has been most reported in recent months has been that of P