Okay. President Barack Obama is going to disappoint me. This much is sure. There is a hell of a lot to do just to clear up the mess Bush left, in the US and around the world. Every day from now until Obama’s inauguration, I’m posting one of a list of seventy things (I’ll take Christmas and New Year off) I’d really, really like President Obama to do before 2012. If you disagree with my list, like my list, are inspired by my list, start your own! Tag it with My Obama Wish List. Anyone can do this – and the list can be anything. But I think I’m being really pretty damn restrained in limiting myself to 70. The list is in no particular order of importance, though I have to admit the first one would be both a great symbolic good and a great practical good.
1. Close down Guantanamo Bay.
Also, all the other gulags in Iraq and Afghanistan and anywhere else the US is holding extra-judicial prisoners.
Prisoners against whom the US has no evidence except that obtained under torture should be released to their country of citizenship, or to the United States, or any other country where they want to go/are welcome (their choice) with appropriate apologies and significant compensation. Prisoners willing to give recorded testimony about the circumstances of their capture and their treatment in prison should be encouraged to do so, though of course their willingness or otherwise should not affect their compensation. Prisoners who may have no option but to settle in the United States should be given permanent leave to remain, the right to work/study and to have their families come to be with them, and to apply for citizenship if they so wish. For example: Chinese Uighurs who were kidnapped from Afghanistan seven years ago, and have been held for four years after a court first ordered their release, because the Bush administration felt letting them go would be politially embarrassing. The prisoners who have already been released should also receive apologies and compensation for their treatment, and an invitation to present formal testimony: for example, Moazzam Begg.
Prisoners being held because the US has actual evidence, not based on confessions obtained by torture, that they are guilty of some wrong-doing (and merely taking up arms against US invasion does not constitute “wrong-doing”) shall be moved to a regular and humane prison, provided with a lawyer, treated like any prisoner on remand awaiting trial, and awarded a prompt court date and a fair trial: the years they spent as an extra-judicial prisoner to count double against any sentence handed down by the court. If the US is not capable of providing any one of those, hand them over to an allied nation that can.
Okay, break’s over!