Senator John McCain is a former prisoner of war (POW). A tortured prisoner of war.
Senator Lindsey Graham is a lawyer. A military lawyer.
Both these allies could be just the help President Barack Obama needs as he tries to navigate the difficult waters of the prisoner, legal, human rights and torture issues surrounding the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The president has asked that the issue be handled with bipartisan resolve and principled care.
“We look forward to working with the president and his administration on these issues, keeping in mind that the first priority of the U.S. government is to guarantee the security of the American people,” McCain said in a joint statement with Graham.
“This is a tough battleground to determine if we can work in a bipartisan manner,” said one old U.S. Senate hand. “But the economic stimulus bill will be tough too.”
In this Jan. 11, 2002 file photo, released by the Department of Defense, detainees wearing orange jump suits sit in a holding area as military police patrol during in-processing at the temporary detention facility Camp X-Ray on Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy, Shane T.McCoy, File)
From Senator John Kerry:
Thursday was an important day for the rule of law in the United States of America.
With a handful of signatures to executive orders, President Obama ordered the eventual closure of Guantanamo Bay prison and CIA “black site” prisons, and placed interrogation in all American facilities by all U.S. personnel under the guidelines of the Army Field Manual.
In a season of transformational changes, these are among the most meaningful, because they send a powerful message that America’s struggle against terrorism will once against honor some of the most cherished ideals of our republic: respect for the rule of law, individual rights, and America’s moral leadership.
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John Kerry says Barack Obama sent a message that fight against terror will respect America’s values.
By ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press Writer
President Barack Obama‘s pledge of bipartisan cooperation with Congress will be tested as he tries to fulfill a campaign promise to close Guantanamo Bay and establish a new system for prosecuting suspected terrorists.
The undertaking is an ambitious one. Fraught with legal complexities, it gives Republicans ample opportunity to score political points if he doesn’t get it right. There’s also the liklihood of a run-in with his former rival, Sen. John McCain, a former prisoner of war who before running for president staked his career on overhauling the nation’s detainee policies.
“We look forward to working with the president and his administration on these issues, keeping in mind that the first priority of the U.S. government is to guarantee the security of the American people,” McCain, R-Ariz., said in a joint statement with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
The statement seemed aimed at putting Obama on notice that he must deal with Congress on the matter.
In his first week in office, Obama ordered Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba to be closed within a year, CIA secret prisons shuttered and abusive interrogations ended.
So far, Obama’s team has given every indication it will engage lawmakers, including Republicans, on the issue. Graham and McCain were among several Republicans briefed last week by White House counsel Greg Craig and handed drafts of the executive orders.
But once the two sides begin delving into details, there will be ample room for dispute.
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McCain on working with Democrats: