WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama “declared an end” to his predecessor’s “war on terror” and began to heal the US reputation abroad when he ordered the Guantanamo Bay prison to close, US editorialists wrote Friday.
Obama’s order to close the detention facility within a year, end coercive interrogations and shut secret overseas CIA prisons sent a strong signal to the world and presented a new post-September 11 era, wrote The Washington Post.
“President Obama yesterday eliminated the most controversial tools employed by his predecessor against terrorism suspects,” the Post said.
“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 US government in battling its enemies will not be limitless,” it said.
“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 September 11, 2001,” the Post added.
“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 Los Angeles Times pointed out the ambiguities that remain: it was still not clear what would be done about the 245 prisoners languishing in the jail, nor how their court cases would be resolved.
But the paper hailed Obama for having reversed Bush policies.
“President Obama has begun the rehabilitation of this country’s reputation when it comes to the treatment of suspected terrorists,” the Times wrote.
“Obama deserves credit for ending the worst of the Bush administration’s excesses in the ‘war on terror’ … But the orders contain ambiguities that demonstrate how hard it will be to unwind the tangle that President Bush created.”
The Chicago Tribune mulled the possibility of holding the remaining Guantanamo terror suspects “as prisoners of war for the duration of the conflict or until they no longer pose a threat.”
The fight against violent extremism remains fraught with difficulty, it noted.
“Assuring fairness and civilized conditions for the accused, while protecting the nation from bloodthirsty enemies, is harder in this war than in most,” the Tribune wrote.
“But the new administration can do better than the last one did.”