Obama Signs Orders Closing Guantanamo, Halting Harsh Interrogations
Posted Jan 22, 2009 11:55 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
President Barack Obama signed executive orders today closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay within a year and ending harsh interrogations of terrorism suspects.
The orders also close any remaining secret prisons run by the CIA, the New York Times reports. The orders require the CIA to use the same rules as the military in its terrorism interrogations, according to the Times.
"We intend to win this fight. We're going to win it on our terms," Obama said as he signed the orders, according to a Chicago Tribune account.
"The message that we are sending the world is that the United States intends to prosecute the ongoing struggle against violence and terrorism, and we are going to do so vigilantly and we are going to do so effectively and we are going to do so in a manner that is consistent with our values and our ideals."
Under one of the orders, the cases of 245 detainees still at Guantanamo will be reviewed to determine whether prosecutions should continue or the prisoners should be released. But several issues remain, according to the Times and the Washington Post.
The Post says prosecutions outside of the Guantanamo military system could result in tossed evidence and “politically explosive acquittals.” If Obama creates a new system to indefinitely hold detainees, he “could alienate part of his core constituency,” the story says.
SCOTUSblog obtained a draft copy of the executive order on Guantanamo. The blog says it calls for three steps. The first is a review of the detainee cases. The second is relocation of the prisoners. The third is prosecution of some detainees, but not necessarily in regular civilian courts.
Another order signed today requires the Justice Department to review the case of Ali al-Marri, the only enemy combatant currently imprisoned in the United States, according to the Chicago Tribune. The review will consider whether al-Marri may sue the government for release.
It is unclear how federal courts hearing habeas cases filed by the Guantanamo detainees will react, SCOTUSblog says.
Yesterday, Obama sought 120-day delays in all cases before the Guantanamo military tribunals, prompting one judge to suspend the trials of five Sept. 11 suspects.