Obama Answers Questions On Torture, But What About Accountability?

On Wednesday, President Obama marked 100 days in office. Without a doubt, the Obama administration has a markedly different tone and attitude towards the rule of law and transparency, and should be commended for the steps taken to end unlawful Bush-era national security policies, including:

  • Issuing executive orders to close of the prison at Guantanamo and end the military commissions.
  • Declaring that America will not torture, and ordering a review of interrogation policies.
  • Issuing sweeping new reforms on the Freedom of Information Act, with an overall presumption of disclosure of government information.
  • Showing a commitment to transparency by releasing the Bush administration torture memos on April 16.

With the recent revelations of the barbaric interrogation techniques authorized by the Bush administration, the question of torture has been at the forefront of the national conversation. Before President Obama's 100 days press conference on Wednesday, thousands of ACLU supporters pressured the media to ask the president about the torture revelations and his commitment to the rule of law. His affirmation that America is "...banning torture without exception" is reassuring.

"In some cases, it may be harder, but part of what makes us, I think, still a beacon to the world is that we are willing to hold true to our ideals even when it's hard, not just when it's easy," President Obama said.

But, there is still a lot to be done and a lot of questions unanswered. Will the Justice Department hold accountable those who authorized torture? How will Guantanamo be closed? Will the administration uphold its commitment to transparency and the rule of law?

These past 100 days have been promising, but rest assured, the ACLU will not let its guard down. We'll continue to press the new administration to live up to this country's highest ideals.