02 February, 2009

In Obama era, human rights watchdogs go soft?

So while Obama wants to close down Guantanamo and ban "harsh interrogation techniques" he issued executive orders authorizing the CIA to continue carry out "renditions" - "secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States" (in other words: kidnapping suspected "terrorists" and sending them to be tortured in countries like Egypt).

This is not a big surprise, at least if you keep in mind that the illegal renditions was introduced already by democrat president Bill Clinton, before the Bush-era and the "war on terror." What really makes me concerned is this part of the LA Times article:

The decision to preserve the program did not draw major protests, even among human rights groups. Leaders of such organizations attribute that to a sense that nations need certain tools to combat terrorism. "Under limited circumstances, there is a legitimate place" for renditions, said Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch."What I heard loud and clear from the president's order was that they want to design a system that doesn't result in people being sent to foreign dungeons to be tortured -- but that designing that system is going to take some time."

Is this the new strategy of human rights watchdogs in the Obama-era? Are they suddenly going to trust the good intentions of governments, softening their criticism in gratitude for any small positive measures being taken? I hope not, but also fear this is a consequence of the general liberal attitude which says that the problem is not so much with the "war on terror" itself, but the particular way it was being conducted by the Bush administration.

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