Obama Meets With Human- Rights Leaders
Under fire for recent moves, holds 'probing' pre-speech discussion
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted May 21, 2009 10:28 AM CDT
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)
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(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.”