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Reporter Jason Leopold Debriefs His Recent Visit to Guantanamo, Comments on Obama’s Policy Changes

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Reporter Jason Leopold gives a detailed account of his recent visit to Guantanamo, talks about the hunger strike and the President’s speech on May 23 about the possible release of some prisoners and other security issues.Leopold is now reporting for Al Jazeera, and filed some important stories from Guantanamo and since his return, which you can read here, here, and here.

We open with Leopold’s detailed description of what he saw at Guantanamo in a guided Pentagon tour.  He was permitted to interview lawyers and some guards, but not prisoners, and relates a scene where a prisoner used hand gestures to communicate his distress.  He talks about the medical ethics of doctors participating in force feeding the hunger strikers, and about a letter from military lawyers declaring that the current commander is unfit for the job.  They say that his changes to prisoner routines, including searches of Korans and private parts, led to the hunger strike.

Then we have an interactive discussion about President Obama’s speech on security issues on May 23, which offered modest changes to Guantanamo with the lifting of the moratorium on releasing Yemenis–but comes up short in most respects.  Leopold reports that, on a conference call before the speech, White House press people confirmed that the hunger strike did prompt changes from Obama.

We also discuss the other elements of Obama’s speech about drones, targeted killings and modifications to the Authorization for Use of Military Force and note that the President did not back up his vision with a plan of action or meaningful leadership to make real changes.