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Commentary :: Human Rights
BTL:Human Rights Groups Troubled by Obama's Position on Reversing Bush Era Abuses of Power
24 Mar 2009
BETWEEN THE LINES Syndicated Radio Newsmagazine
Human Rights Groups Troubled by Obama's Position on Reversing Bush Era Abuses of Power

Interview with Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, conducted by Scott Harris

On March 13, the Obama administration announced that it would abandon the Bush administration's term "enemy combatant" while at the same time arguing in court for the continued detention of prisoners at Guant√°namo Bay, Cuba. The Obama Justice Department stated that the legal rationale for holding some 240 prisoners at Guantanamo will now be based on laws passed by Congress and, by extension, international law, including the Geneva conventions. Within days of being sworn into office, Obama pledged to close the Guantanamo prison within a year.

The Justice Department said that only those detainees who provided "substantial" support to al Qaeda, the Taliban or similar groups -- or who were "part" of those groups -- would be considered candidates for detention. But troubling to many human rights groups was the vague definition of what constitutes "substantial" support for a militant group and the uncertain status of more than 600 prisoners now being held at the Bagram U.S air base in Afghanistan. Also of concern to civil liberties advocates was the Obama administration's decision to shield top Bush administration officials from lawsuits brought by prisoners who say they were tortured while being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

As Congress and the administration are considering their options to hold Bush administration officials accountable for violations of U.S. and international law, either through the appointment of a special prosecutor or the establishment of an independent Truth Commission, disturbing information has come to light that could increase the urgency of such an undertaking. Renowned investigative reporter Seymour Hersh told an audience at a University of Minnesota event about his unpublished reporting on an ongoing covert military operation that he described as an "executive assassination ring" conducted out of former Vice President Cheney's office, and illegal domestic spying conducted by the CIA. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who discusses his concerns about the direction the Obama administration is taking in making a clean break with Bush era human rights abuses.

Contact the Center for Constitutional Rights by calling (212) 614-6464 or visit their website at

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LISTEN to this week's half-hour program of Between The Lines by clicking on one of the links below:



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"Between The Lines" is a half-hour syndicated radio news magazine that each week features a summary of under-reported news stories and interviews with activists and journalists who offer progressive perspectives on international, national and regional political, economic and social issues. Because "Between The Lines" is independent of all publications, media networks or political parties, we are able to bring a diversity of voices to the airwaves generally ignored or marginalized by the major media. For more information on this week's topics and to check out our text archive listing topics and guests presented in previous programs visit:
"Between the Lines," WPKN 89.5 FM's weekly radio news magazine can be heard Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. ET; Wednesdays at 8 a.m. ET and Saturdays at 2 p.m. ET (Wednesday's show airs at 7:30 a.m. ET during fundraising months of April and October).
For an email subscription of "Between The Lines Weekly Summary" which features a RealAudio link to the week's program for Between The Lines, send an email to btlsummary-subscribe (at)
For an email subscription of "Between The Lines Q&A" which features a RealAudio link and weekly transcript to one of the interviews featured on Between The Lines, send an email to btlqa-subscribe (at)
betweenthelines (at)
Distributed by Squeaky Wheel Productions
©2009 Between The Lines. All Rights Reserved.
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