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In a swift, bold move, President Barack Obama put an end to former President George W. Bush’s war on the Constitution and freedom, ending his predecessor’s so-called "war on terror" and signaling to the world that, from now on, the United States will abide by the rule of law.
Obama’s move leaves Republicans waiting for the next terrorist attack so they can pounce and claim Obama left America vulnerable to its enemies but those who believe in law and playing by the rules applaud the new President’s efforts.
Obama signed an executive order that begings the process of closing the controversial prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and prohibiting the Central Intelligence Agency and the American military from torturing prisoners in flagrant violation of the accords of the Geneva Convention.
In doing so, the President delivered on two of his more visible campaign promises.
President Obama yesterday eliminated the most controversial tools employed by his predecessor against terrorism suspects. With the stroke of his pen, he effectively declared an end to the "war on terror," as President George W. Bush had defined it, signaling to the world that the reach of the U.S. government in battling its enemies will not be limitless.
While Obama says he has no plans to diminish counterterrorism operations abroad, the notion that a president can circumvent long-standing U.S. laws simply by declaring war was halted by executive order in the Oval Office.
Key components of the secret structure developed under Bush are being swept away: The military’s Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, facility, where the rights of habeas corpus and due process had been denied detainees, will close, and the CIA is now prohibited from maintaining its own overseas prisons. And in a broad swipe at the Bush administration’s lawyers, Obama nullified every legal order and opinion on interrogations issued by any lawyer in the executive branch after Sept. 11, 2001.
It was a swift and sudden end to an era that was slowly drawing to a close anyway, as public sentiment grew against perceived abuses of government power. The feisty debate over the tactics employed against al-Qaeda began more than six years ago as whispers among confidants with access to the nation’s most tightly held secrets. At the time, there was consensus in Congress and among the public that the United States would be attacked again and that government should do what was necessary to thwart the threat.