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Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Obama continues war on terror

The latest issue of Amnesty Magazine (March/April 2010) points up the following facts that indicate that President Obama's administration continues to operate within the framework of the 'war on terror', a term allegedly 'banned' within the White House: 188 prisoners remain detained without charge or trial at the notorious Guantanamo Bay detention camp facility which Obama had promised to close by January 2010. Despite secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, stating that human rights violators should be held to account, no criminal investigations have been opened into torture allegations. In addition, the administration continues to defend detention without trial, tries to keep classified information on torture techniques, and has resisted disclosing information on the treatment of detainees in CIA 'secret' prisons. Needless to say, no apologies have been proferred to former inmates of the various detention camps, let alone compensation.

Lest we think that the war on terror mentality operates only in the administration's foreign policy, CQ Weekly, the non-partisan publication of the US Congress, headlined the following in its 1 February 2010 edition: "Bush-Era Terrorism Law Gets Obama-Era Support". CQ reports that because of Democratic party control of Congress, many expected the quashing of the FBI's 'right' to get a court order for "any tangible thing", including a list of library books anyone might be reading, or DNA and bl0od samples, should they deem it necessary for a counter-terrorism or counter-intelligence investigation. The FBI need offer no evidence to back up their claim that such information is actually demanded by the known facts of the case. Despite a chance to change this when revising the PATRIOT Act, such powers were extended for a further period: they were due to expire in 2009. According to President Obama, the Patriot Act was not "the source of the worst civil liberties abuses by the Bush administration." Quite true, of course, but hardly a source of pride for the United States, and certainly worthy of immediate repeal.

The 'soft power' president - who's very face was identified as likely to enhance America's image in the world - has indeed managed to improve America's global approval ratings. Given the lack of substantial change in the war on terror mentality within the White House and the broader bureaucratic and political apparatus in the United States, however, the improved image is likely to suffer in the long run.

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