On December 6, 2016, US President Barack Obama delivered a speech on US counterterrorism policy at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. Below is the reaction from Laura Pitter, US national security counsel at Human Rights Watch:
President Obama delivered a powerful critique against the use of torture and continued detentions at Guantanamo, making clear these practices are not only ineffective but damaging to US national security. Incoming president Trump should take the president’s words seriously and clearly repudiate campaign statements he has made in support of these practices.
President Obama’s scathing critique of the military commissions was spot on. That system has ended up spawning massive delays, generating a huge number of appellate issues, and denying justice not just to the few accused, but the 9/11 victim family members. It is high time that Congress, this administration, and the next, acknowledge the military commissions for what they are – an absolute disaster – and move these cases to federal court.
President Obama praised his administration for a high degree of transparency and accountability, yet in truth his administration has fallen short in that regard. An enormous amount of information remains classified and much of what has been disclosed has come through litigation and freedom of information act requests.
President Obama’s speech comes on the heels of a report the White House released yesterday on US counterterrorism policies and practices over the past eight years.