Obama Meets With Human- Rights Leaders

Under fire for recent moves, holds 'probing' pre-speech discussion

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted May 21, 2009 10:28 AM CDT

(Newser) – Dogged by criticism over recent decisions, President Obama invited a crew of human-rights and civil-liberties leaders and academics to discuss Guantanamo, tribunals, and transparency ahead of today’s speech on similar themes, the Huffington Post reports. Obama said he was unhappy with Congress’ denial of funds to close Gitmo and that he’d prefer federal courts over tribunals, but was in a tight position.

It was a “lively” and “really probing” meeting, a human-rights advocate said. Obama “didn’t think he ought to be making these decisions in an ad-hoc, unaccountable way.” On the release of prisoner-abuse photos, Obama is “convinced that the particular timing” wasn’t right to release them, given today’s situation in Afghanistan. On tribunals, he “seemed to imply” that the circumstances surrounding some captures “would lend themselves to trial in a military commission.”

President Barack Obama delivers an address today on national security, terrorism, and the closing of Guantanamo Bay prison at the National Archives in Washington.
President Barack Obama delivers an address today on national security, terrorism, and the closing of Guantanamo Bay prison at the National Archives in Washington.   (AP Photo)
President Barack Obama delivers an address today on national security, terrorism, and the closing of Guantanamo Bay prison at the National Archives in Washington.
President Barack Obama delivers an address today on national security, terrorism, and the closing of Guantanamo Bay prison at the National Archives in Washington.   (AP Photo)
President Barack Obama finishes his statement to reporters during a meeting of the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board yesterday at the White House.
President Barack Obama finishes his statement to reporters during a meeting of the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board yesterday at the White House.   (AP Photo)
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