From the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times — Originally published Thursday, Jan. 22

President Barack Obama ... quickly got to work doing essential business. He started by issuing an order late Tuesday night halting prosecutions at Guantanamo Bay. ...

The welcome order to Guantanamo immediately halted prosecutions under the Bush administration’s misguided military commissions act. More broadly, it confirmed Mr. Obama’s promised plan to close the rogue prison, relocate its detainees and shift trials to legal courts. ...

Certainly the Guantanamo prison should be closed. Though the Bush administration’s detention, interrogation and trial abuses there have been well documented — and thoroughly lambasted by the U.S. Supreme Court and a raft of legal and military critics — it may, unfortunately, require a full year to close the detention facility.

There are several difficult obstacles to overcome. Inmates must be properly sorted out, charged and tried, or repatriated to be tried or released elsewhere. The Bush administration’s clandestine methods of operation at Guantanamo makes judicial determinations difficult and taints their repatriation potential.

... Cleaning up such Bush-era abuses may not be a major focus of the Obama administration, but it shouldn’t be slighted. It’s badly needed to restore balance and the rule of law, and a good way to make a fresh start.

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