If President Obama is serious about ending human rights violations by the US government in the name national security, he should use the speech to announce, among other points, that:
1) Forced feeding will stop and the transfer of detainees cleared to leave will resume. There are dozens cleared by the administration to leave the detention facility. Even under current Congressional conditions on transfers, these men can and must be transferred out where there are countries to take them that will respect their human rights.
One example is Shaker Aamer. He has been cleared for transfer under the Bush and Obama administrations, and the British government says he should be free with his wife and children in London. Why has he not been transferred there? Instead of brutal force feeding of detainees, it’s time to fulfill human rights.
2) A high level White House official has been appointed to lead the effort to close Guantanamo. The official should be empowered to ensure that the detention facility is not only closed, but closed the right way: by ending indefinite detention and the unfair military commissions, and ensuring that each detainee is either charged and fairly tried in federal court, or released. President Obama should also announce that he will veto any legislation that will hinder the effort to close the detention facility and continue human rights violations.
3) The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture should be made public. The recently completed report is the most exhaustive study to date of the CIA detention and interrogation program. We have a right to know the truth and release of the report is an important step toward ensuring that the CIA never uses torture or ill-treatment again.
4) More information about the so-called targeted killing program will be made public, including the names and locations of those killed, and declassified versions of the secret administration legal memoranda. There must be independent and impartial investigations into alleged extrajudicial executions, and remedy for any killings found to be unlawful.
5) The world is not a battlefield. President Obama should reject the “global war” legal theory–that the U.S. can detain or kill anyone, anywhere pursuant to its fight against Al Qaeda and other armed groups–and recognize the applicability of international human rights law to all US counterterrorism efforts.