Jan 27, 2009

Shutting the ‘Revolving Door’

by Mattison Brooks, Opinion Reporter

It should probably not surprise anyone that President Barack Obama gave some executive orders during his first days as president. It is not unordinary, and many presidents have done it. While Obama did not ban anything related to domestic affairs, his first orders as the newly inaugurated President of the United States revamped this country’s stance on terrorism.

Obama has banned the use of torture in terrorist interrogations, in addition to having ordered the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison facilities and demanding an overhaul of the handbook for all military personnel to reflect those two previously mentioned decisions.
It is no surprise that Obama addressed these points in his first White House briefing hours after he wrote them into effect. There would be questions, many of them relating to Guantanamo’s closure, which is a significant turning point in American foreign policy.

However, despite skepticism from commentators, outlets and think-tanks around Washington D.C., Press Secretary Robert Gibbs highlighted and pointed out in the conference that the new president believed that making these changes will improve American and western security abroad. I could not agree more.

Whatever your views of Obama may be, he has indeed taken the moral high ground by banning torture and closing “Gitmo.” Not only did those two specific policies violate international law — which in fairness is very biased against Western nations — but it also violated American constitutional law. Habeus Corpus and equality of man are the paramount cornerstones America was founded upon. Closing what became known in the political community as “the revolving door” is probably one of the best things to happen to American foreign policy in almost a decade.

By doing this, Obama has won favor with those who viewed the American military as villainous for indefinitely imprisoning these men and not granting them habeus corpus. He has taken the blemish off of the face of American foreign policy by directly addressing the issue of torture with a firm “no” rather than wishy-washy, question-dodging answers. He has taken away the irony of America claiming to be a beacon of democracy, only to suspend it when it so chooses, for whom it chooses.

Lastly, and what I feel is most important, he has also tried to extend goodwill to the international community.

No doubt many will view this as an anti-Republican maneuver and nothing more than perceived political pandering by the GOP. However, I have never felt that the law and justice were exclusively Republican or Democratic. Choosing to obey the law is hardly a political power play; it is just good leadership, and that transcends party boundaries.

The individuals who have been held at Guantanamo are men that have been captured while aiding, fighting with or assisting terrorists or the act of terrorism. These are men who have performed inhumane acts of destruction and evil. But they are still human nonetheless. As such, they are entitled to the rights granted by the United Nations charter of Human Rights and of the nation that captures them, even if captured westerners or soldiers would not be extended that very same courtesy.

Being the light on the hill and the “last great hope of humanity” means never losing our humanity. They may be monsters, but we do not need to become monsters ourselves to beat them. The America I know, knows better. And now we have the chance to do better. So let us keep the revolving door shut and put that dark chapter behind us.

Contact Mattison Brooks at


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