Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Petraeus: stop torture and close Guantánamo

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Amanda Terkel in ThinkProgress:

In an interview this past weekend with Radio Free Europe, Gen. David Petraeus said that he supports President Obama’s decision to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and opposes the use of enhanced interrogation techniques:

PETRAEUS: In fact, I have long been on record as having testified and also in helping write doctrine for interrogation techniques that are completely in line with the Geneva Convention. And as a division commander in Iraq in the early days, we put out guidance very early on to make sure that our soldiers, in fact, knew that we needed to stay within those guidelines.

With respect to Guantanamo, I think that the closure in a responsible manner, obviously one that is certainly being worked out now by the Department of Justice — I talked to the attorney general the other day [and] they have a very intensive effort ongoing to determine, indeed, what to do with the detainees who are left, how to deal with them in a legal way, and if continued incarceration is necessary — again, how to take that forward.

But doing that in a responsible manner, I think, sends an important message to the world, as does the commitment of the United States to observe the Geneva Convention when it comes to the treatment of detainees.

Will Petraeus change the minds of any conservatives who are currently criticizing Obama for these same opinions? Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has called Petraeus one of the “wisest people” he knows, and conservatives have said that it would be a “dream” to have the general run for president.

Also note this very interesting article by Spencer Ackerman in the Washington Independent:

A program that the Obama administration calls crucial to Pakistan’s fight against the Taliban is being criticized at the State Department and on Capitol Hill for overly militarizing the problem.

The dispute represents an early rift with some progressive members of Congress over discrepancies between the administration’s broad foreign policy goals and its approach to immediate challenges. One of the central aspects of the administration’s approach to the crisis in Pakistan is a new creation called the Pakistani Counterinsurgency Capabilities Fund, a $400 million annual program to give the Pakistani military equipment and training for counterinsurgency missions that it had shown little competency in waging. During April testimony, Michele Flournoy, the undersecretary of defense for policy, called it “absolutely critical to the success” of the Obama administration’s strategy in Pakistan. Both the House and the Senate showed themselves receptive to the proposal, adding the so-called PCCF to the war supplemental that passed the House on May 14 and the Senate on May 21.

At the administration’s behest, both versions of the supplemental placed the PCCF under the jurisdiction of the Defense Department, despite the State Department’s control over the government-to-government Foreign Military Sales program that typically governs aid to foreign militaries. That move has struck some on Capitol Hill — and in the State Department — as retrenchment on a core Obama administration priority: its pledge to rebalance a foreign-policy apparatus it sees as overly militarized. What’s more, an article of faith among counterinsurgency theorist/practitioners holds that its hybrid style of warfare is “80 percent political and only 20 percent military,” which further raises questions about the Obama administration’s decision to place the fund in the military’s hands.

There is no opposition to the creation of the PCCF, or the general concept that Pakistan’s military ought to receive U.S. assistance in combating a vicious insurgency that has expanded its reach over the country over the past year — a combustible mix that makes the nuclear-armed country “one of the most difficult foreign policy challenges we face,” as Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, put it at a May 12 hearing. But members of the House International Affairs Committee and the State Department’s legislative-affairs and private international law bureaus contend that the fund ought to be placed under the auspices of the State Department.

Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the chairman of the committee, added an additional $700 million for the PCCF in the House’s version of a sprawling Pakistan aid bill — which cleared the committee on May 20 — but changed the custody of the program…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 May 2009 at 3:00 pm

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