SO FAR, SO GOOD…. It’s obviously folly to judge a president after 50 hours on the job. (“He’s had two good days; make room on Rushmore!”) But it’s not too early to acknowledge the fact that Barack Obama is off to a very encouraging start.
Glenn Greenwald had some compelling praise in an item this morning.
Barack Obama will have spent his first several days in office issuing a series of executive orders which, some quibbling and important caveats aside, meet or actually exceed even the most optimistic expectations of civil libertarians — everything from ordering the closing of Guantanamo to suspending military commissions to compelling CIA interrogators to adhere to the Army Field Manual to banning CIA “black sites” and, perhaps most encouragingly (in my view): severely restricting his own power and the power of former Presidents to withhold documents on the basis of secrecy, which has been the prime corrosive agent of the Bush era.
Agreed. Like everyone else, I’ve been curious about what Obama would do early on. I expected him to hit the ground running, but it was less clear what he’d be running towards. But consider what we saw on the first day — the new president not only created stricter lobbying rules than any administration in history, but he also issued sweeping orders to boost accountability and transparency. He not only took steps to halt the military tribunal process at Gitmo, but he also reached out to leaders in the Middle East to recommit the United States to the peace process.
Day Two, as Glenn explained, has included a fairly dramatic overhaul of U.S. detention policies and facilities.
Spencer Ackerman added, “For all the talk about Obama not governing as a progressive, take a look at his first not-even-48 hours in office. He’s suspended the Guantanamo Bay military commissions, a first step toward shuttering the entire detention complex. He’s assembled his military commanders to discuss troop withdrawals from Iraq. He’s issued a far-reaching order on transparency in his administration that mandates, among other things, a two-year ban on any ex-lobbyists working on issues they lobbied for. And now he’s shutting down the CIA’s off-the-books detention complexes in the war on terrorism…. [F]or progressives, that’s a pretty robust first two days.”
I’ll spare you the cliches about “change you can believe in,” but I will say that this is exactly the kind of start I’d hoped to see.