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January 22, 2009

Understanding Today's Executive Orders
Posted by Adam Blickstein

Today, the National Security Network held a conference call examining the three Executive Orders signed today by President Barack Obama that will close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and revise the rules for interrogation, effectively banning torture. Tom Malinowski, Washington Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch, Sarah Mendelson, Director of the Human Rights and Security Initiative at CSIS, and Ken Gude, Associate Director of the International Rights and Responsibility Program at the Center for American Progress Action Fund participated in the call. Below are some quotes, and a link to the full audio of the call can be found here.

"I think one of the interesting things going forward is that this albatross around our neck is going to turn into an opportunity as a country. This is going to allow the President go around the world, not just to argue that the United States is back in line with the Geneva Conventions, rules against torture and its basic values as a country, but that the process that we've been through in the last few years shows the self-correcting features of American democracy in a way that's going to be a very good advertisement for America around the world. So I think he's going find this to be not just a problem resolved but an opportunity to achieve a lot of other things."
Tom Malinowski, Washington Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch

"I think that these policies in a lot of ways they give weight to the statement that President Obama made in his inaugural address that "We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals." I'm hoping that this is the beginning of a series of initiatives that really puts some meat on the bones of that statement."
Sarah Mendelson, Director of the Human Rights and Security Initiative at CSIS

"Barack Obama has done more here in these first couple of days in office to protect the security and uphold the values of the United States than George Bush did in 8 long years. A lot of work needs to be done, but President Obama has begun his Administration by sending a clear signal to friend and foe alike just as he said in the inaugural address. And that signal is that America is back and ready once again to lead the community of nations towards a future that is both more secure and more free."
Ken Gude, Associate Director of the International Rights and Responsibility Program


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