From this column today by Jonathan Rauch.
Some excellent questions for Obama.
* Does he think Bush administration officials who authorized rough interrogation methods should be put on trial for war crimes, as a growing chorus in his party is demanding? If not, why doesn’t he renounce such talk? If so, does he want his own administration second-guessed in the same way? As president, could he live with the overcautiousness and fear that criminal sanctions would instill within the CIA, the Pentagon, and the White House?
* Assuming that he keeps his promise to close the Guantanamo prison camp, what does he propose to do with the detainees–and with others who will be picked up in the future? Some are hardened jihadists who can be neither released safely nor, because of evidentiary and other problems, tried in civilian courts. Does he propose to put them out on the street in America or abroad? Find a new way to lock them up? The next president will need to deal with this, so what is Obama’s plan?
* Does he intend to hold CIA interrogators to the kid-glove standards of the Army field manual? If so, that would likely preclude even such mild forms of intimidation as angry shouting. Or will he allow selective use of moderately harsh methods, short of torture, if his operatives reasonably believed that such tactics could elicit life-saving information?
* Does he think that the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force–which bestowed Congress’s blessing on lethal strikes against any person, country, or organization involved in the 9/11 attacks–is still in effect? If so, how far beyond Qaeda targets does it allow him to reach? When he says (as he did in an August 2007 speech), “I will not hesitate to use military force to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to America,” is he claiming the same kind of unilateral war-making powers that Bush asserted? If not, where are the limits?