Bravo, Mr. Obama
January 21, 2009 · Posted in Politics
President Barack Obama plans several executive orders regarding Guantanamo Bay :
President Barack Obama is planning to issue three executive orders Thursday, including one demanding the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay be closed within a year, according to a senior administration official and a congressional aide.
A second executive order will formally ban torture by requiring the Army field manual be used as the guide for terror interrogations, essentially ending the Bush administration’s CIA program of enhanced interrogation methods.
A third executive order, according to the officials, will order a systematic review of detention policies and procedures and a review of all individual cases.
It’s about time that these cases be reviewed and the crimes perpetrated by the Bush administration are exposed to the public.
Obama also signed orders regarding ethics guidelines:
Promising “a new era of openness in our country,” President Obama signed executive orders Wednesday relating to ethics guidelines for staff members of his administration.
Last but not least he issued a pay freeze and established new transparency and lobbying guidelines:
The pay freeze affects the roughly 100 White House employees who make more than $100,000 a year. “Families are tightening their belts, and so should Washington,” Obama said.
Obama’s new lobbying rules will ban aides from trying to influence the administration when they leave his staff. Those already hired will be banned from working on matters they have previously lobbied on, or to approach agencies that they once targeted.
The rules also ban lobbyists from giving gifts of any size to any member of his administration. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the ban would include the traditional “previous relationships” clause, allowing gifts from friends or associates with which an employee comes in with strong ties.
The new rules also stipulate that anyone who leaves his administration cannot try to influence former friends and colleagues for at least two years. Obama is requiring all staff to attend to an ethics briefing like one he said he attended last week.
Obama called the rules tighter “than under any other administration in history.” They followed pledges during his campaign to be strict about the influence of lobbyists in his White House.
“The new rules on lobbying alone, no matter how tough, are not enough to fix a broken system in Washington,” he said. “That’s why I’m also setting rules that govern not just lobbyists but all those who have been selected to serve in my administration.”
‘Too much secrecy’
In an attempt to deliver on pledges of a transparent government, Obama said he would change the way the federal government interprets the Freedom of Information Act. He said he was directing agencies that vet requests for information to err on the side of making information public — not to look for reasons to legally withhold it — an alteration to the traditional standard of evaluation.
Just because a government agency has the legal power to keep information private does not mean that it should, Obama said. Reporters and public-interest groups often make use of the law to explore how and why government decisions were made; they are often stymied as agencies claim legal exemptions to the law.
“For a long time now, there’s been too much secrecy in this city,” Obama said.
He said the orders he was issuing Wednesday will not “make government as honest and transparent as it needs to be” nor go as far as he would like.
“But these historic measures do mark the beginning of a new era of openness in our country,” Obama said. “And I will, I hope, do something to make government trustworthy in the eyes of the American people, in the days and weeks, months and years to come.”
Within hours of Obama’s taking the oath of office on Tuesday, Emanuel ordered all federal agencies to put the brakes on any pending regulations that the Bush administration sought to push through in its final days.
All these are positive signs of a decent policy that points in the right direction. These are also signs that trust may return in the US government. In light of all this and a simultaneous financial meltdown in the UK and Europe with global deleveraging, it is safe to assume that the current short term Dollar rally will gain some more momentum over the next weeks.