The whole world is anxiously waiting for Obama to take the reins from the much-hated President Bush. After an expensive election that involved the throwing around of grand statements and ideals, the world should be anxious, perhaps even excited.
One thing that excites me is a proposed nonpartisan commission that could hold the Bush administration accountable for detention, torture and extraordinary rendition — the practice of taking suspected terrorists to a third country for interrogation, according to Salon.com.
Because of this proposal, President Bush is considering giving officials involved in such cases a blanket pardon, meaning they would have immunity from prosecution under the Obama administration, should it wish to pursue prosecution.
Of course the Bush administration thought of this a long time ago and amended its 2006 war legislation to make it more difficult to prosecute individuals.
The problem with a blanket pardon is that if Bush does grant it, it would be like admitting to carrying out crimes and admitting that the government was wrong. It is also likely that a whole bunch of Democrats have some blood on their hands too.
The commission would be tasked with fact-finding before thinking about prosecution. Even if Bush and his officials are not prosecuted, full knowledge of the facts behind Bush’s so-called war on terror will be of great value to the whole world.
If Obama does pursue this, it probably won’t be any time soon. What will hopefully happen soon is the closure of the Guantánamo Bay detention centre in Cuba. If that does happen, what will that mean for Australia’s David Hicks, who was released from the centre last year after allegedly being tortured for more than five years, being held mostly without charge? Or Sami Al-Hajj, a former cameraman for Al Jazeera TV news channel, who was released in May this year after more than six years’ detention with no filed charges. How will they be compensated?