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Rights Groups Demand Full Access to Gitmo

President Obama really opened a big fat can of worms when he issued those executive orders last week. Not only did he make all sorts of promises on state secrets that he’s now being called on to fulfill, but in promising to review the conditions of detention at Guantanamo Bay, he opened himself up to the obvious request today from some of the nation’s most prominent civil and human rights groups: Let us in!

The Bush administration, of course, was extraordinarily secretive about Gitmo, allowing only carefully circumscribed guided tours of model parts of the facility for human rights workers and journalists. Even lawyers representing Gitmo detainees were not allowed to meet privately with their clients and had to turn over their notes for inspection before leaving the facility.

Now, the heads of the ACLU, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are following up on Obama’s promises to “immediately undertake a review of the conditions of detention at Guantánamo to ensure full compliance with [Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions],” and making their own request for “full access to the Guantánamo Bay detention camps so that we may independently review and report on the conditions of confinement there and make concrete recommendations for change.”

Given his big promises, it’s hard to see how President Obama — even under Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a holdover from the Bush administration — will be able to deny their request.

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