Saturday, January 24, 2009

January 24, 2009

    What a difference a week makes!
    Pick up this morning's Washington Post and read that supervisors in the Bush Justice Department "routinely weighed political hiring for career positions, which is a violation of federal civil service laws."
    Contrast that with another headline about the new guy:  "Historians say he could redefine the Presidency" (Washington Post, 01/20/09).  Boy, could he ever.
    President Obama has issued an order "closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which has been at the center of the debate over the treatment of US prisoners in the battle against terrorism." (again, The Washington Post)  The President has said the US will no longer torture prisoners.  He wants a case by case review of those still held at Guantanamo, people the Bush administration said could be held indefinitely with no right to know the charges against them nor the evidence against them, no right to a lawyer.
    Sources also said Obama will sign two executive orders "altering CIA detention and interrogation rules limiting interrogation standards in all US those outlined in the Army field manual and prohibiting the agency from secretly holding terrorist detainees in third country prisons."
    Appointing former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell as a special envoy to the Middle East - another positive move.  Mitchell, almost everyone in Washington would agree, is a thoughtful, intelligent man whether dealing with baseball (he had that Commission, you remember) or diplomacy.
    The Constitution, under which we theoretically live, got considerably scuffed and muddied during the eight Bush years.  In just four days the new guy seems to be trying to put the polish back on our grandest document.  Let's wish him well.
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