Seven years of indefinite detention and extrajudicial killings around the globe belie the president’s once-claimed intent to change the system he inherited.
Barack Obama, the new U.S. president, was keeping his promise: 48 hours into his presidency and there he was, signing an executive order that called for closing down the military prison at Guantanamo Bay within a year
“This is me following through,” Obama said from the White House on January 22, 2009. It was his intent to “restore the standards of due process and the core constitutional values that have made this country great,” and he was actually doing it, every ecstatic liberal posting the news on the Facebook wall of their skeptical leftist friend. The United States, the new young president declared, would “observe core standards of conduct not just when it’s easy but also when it’s hard.”
How refreshing it was, after two terms of waterboarding and the oratory torture of George W. Bush, to hear not just pretty words about American ideals that never were actually put into practice in a nation founded by human enslavement, but for those words to accompany in-real-life action. How disappointing, then, that the gratingly correct cynic was once more proven right: that even the seemingly tangible gestures -- ending the empire, no, but improving its public relations in a way that gave real, actual hope to a few hundred imprisoned men who lacked it -- proved to be little more than yet another photo op