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New president’s promises face test

Since President Barack Obama took office about a month ago, it’s easy for me to open a newspaper and see something I’m happy with.
That’s something that did not happen once in the entirety of George W. Bush’s reign. Granted, I was in the fifth grade when he first took office, so I wasn’t all that interested in politics. But by the time his second term rolled around, I didn’t agree with any of his decisions.
In his first week alone, Obama signed several executive orders that made my heart skip a few beats.
First, he ended the use of interrogation techniques most of us would call torture. This is huge.
That was a big part of Bush’s ‘war on terror,’ so Obama ending the practice shows just how off base we were.
The United States stands for something. Criminals get their days in court, always. It’s written in the Constitution.
And yes, the Framers did not have any idea a group of people from the other side of the world would hate us enough to kill upwards of 3,000 Americans, so they couldn’t form any sort of terror clause.
But still, the U.S. has been operating under the Constitution for more than 220 years, and it’s served us pretty well.
Most of our morals and beliefs come from the document. Morals such as freedom of religion, freedom of the press, the right to bear arms and you know the rest.
But what’s the point of having morals and beliefs if you don’t stick by them when they’re actually tested?
It’s like a politician who preaches about the Bible, only to be caught in bed with a prostitute.
If you don’t stick by your morals when they’re tested, they’re more like hobbies.
And what greater test could there be than Sept. 11?
I’m not saying those responsible shouldn’t be punished, (although most of them aren’t, does any one even remember Osama any more?) I’m saying those who are responsible should receive a trial. Just like the Constitution demands.
For instance, former Bradley student Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri was arrested in December of 2001 for allegedly being part of the Sept. 11 plot.
In 2003, he was declared an enemy combatant by Bush. That allowed the government to lock him away in a naval prison without any lawyers or communication with the outside world.
In fact, al-Marri is the only person in an 80-bed wing of that naval prison.
He is also the only known (stress on known) enemy combatant in the United States.
And he will be the test of Obama’s morals.
Obama will either do the right thing and let al-Marri bring his case to court, or he will let the worst of the Bush-era philosophies continue.
After his victory, many Republicans predicted Obama would be all talk, and that he would realize the policies enacted by Bush were needed.
It’s time to prove them wrong.
And if al-Marri is guilty, then he must be punished.
Also, I hate the thought of giving terrorists the same rights we enjoy, rights they have tried to destroy.
But what if they’re innocent?
What if al-Marri is innocent, and we keep him locked away in that prison for the rest of his life? We could actually do something we actually could do.
The same thing happens with accused pedophiles. Who wants to give them fair trials? But sometimes the police make mistakes. Sometimes innocent people are punished for crimes they did not commit.
And sometimes the U.S. government, as we all know, makes mistakes.
Are we going to let our anger and pain snuff out one of the most American things there is?
We all hate the terrorists as much as they hate us, but it’s time for us to step up and refuse to let them take away one more civil liberty.
Pat Oldendorf is a sophomore journalism and English major from Lockport. He is the Scout managing editor.
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