Moving quickly to reverse his predecessor's policies on the treatment of terror suspects, President Barack Obama on Thursday signed an executive order to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison within a year.
He also signed an executive order to require that all U.S. interrogations of terror suspects must now conform to the U.S. Army Field Manual, a move meant to restrict what the CIA can do. The president created an inter-agency task force to advise him on detainee policy.
In addition, the man tapped to oversee U.S. intelligence is promising Congress there will be no torture, harsh interrogations and warrantless wiretapping on his watch.
The direct quote from Obama:
Any interrogations taking place are going to have to abide by the Army Field Manual. We feel that the Army Field Manual reflects the best judgment of our military -- that we can abide by a rule that says we don't torture. But that we can still effectively obtain the intelligence that we need.
This is me following through on not just a commitment I made during the campaign, I think, but an understanding that dates to our founding fathers. That we are willing to observe core standards of conduct, not just when it's easy but when it's hard.
Be sure to read Glenn Greenwald's fine post today on what Americans really think about the need to torture.
UPDATE: Text of the draft order is below the fold.
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Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, in order to effect the appropriate disposition of individuals currently detained by the Department of Defense at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base ("Guantánamo") and promptly to close the detention facilities at Guantánamo, consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice, I hereby order as follows:
Section 1. Definitions. As used in this order:
(a) "Common Article 3" means Article 3 of each of the Geneva Conventions.
(b) "Geneva Conventions" means:
(i) the Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field, Aug. 12, 1949 (6 UST 3114);
(ii) the Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea, Aug. 12, 1949 (6 UST 3217);
(iii) the Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Aug. 12, 1949 (6 UST 3316); and
(iv) the Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Aug. 12, 1949 (6 UST 3516).
(c) "Individuals currently detained at Guantánamo" and "individuals covered by this order" mean individuals currently detained by the Department of Defense in facilities at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base whom the Department of Defense has ever determined to be or treated as enemy combatants.
Sec. 2. Findings.
(a) Over the past seven years, approximately 800 individuals whom the Federal Government has identified as enemy combatants have been detained at Guantánamo. The Federal Government has moved more than 500 such detainees from Guantánamo, either by returning them to their home country or by releasing or transferring them to a third country. The Department of Defense has determined that a number of the individuals currently detained at Guantánamo are eligible for such transfer or release.
(b) Some individuals currently detained at Guantánamo have been there for more than six years, and most have been detained for at least four years. In view of the significant concerns raised by these detentions, both within the United States and internationally, prompt and appropriate disposition of the individuals currently detained at Guantánamo and closure of the facility would further the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice. Merely closing the facility without promptly determining the appropriate disposition of the individuals detained would not adequately serve those interests. To the extent practicable, the prompt and appropriate disposition of the individuals detained at Guantanamo should precede the closure of the detention facilities at Guantanamo.
(c) The individuals currently detained at Guantánamo have the constitutional privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. Most of those individuals have filed petitions for a writ of habeas corpus in Federal court challenging the lawfulness of their detention.
(d) It is in the interests of the United States that the Administration undertake a prompt and thorough review of the factual and legal bases for the continued detention of all individuals currently held at Guantánamo, and of whether their continued detention is in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and in the interests of justice. The unusual circumstances associated with detentions at Guantánamo require a comprehensive interagency review.
(e) New diplomatic efforts may result in an appropriate disposition of a substantial number of individuals currently detained at Guantánamo.
(f) Some individuals currently detained at Guantánamo may have committed offenses for which they should be prosecuted. It is in the interests of the United States to review whether and how any such individuals can and should be prosecuted.
(g) It is in the interests of the United States that the Administration conduct a prompt and thorough review of the circumstances of the individuals currently detained at Guantánamo who have been charged with offenses before military commissions pursuant to the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Public Law 109-366, as well as of the military commission process more generally.
Sec. 3. Closure of Detention Facilities at Guantánamo. The detention facilities at Guantánamo for individuals covered by this order shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than one year from the date of this order. If any individuals covered by this order remain in detention at Guantánamo at the time of closure of those detention facilities, they shall be returned to their home country, released, transferred to a third country, or transferred to another United States detention facility in a manner consistent with law and the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.
Sec. 4. Immediate Review of All Guantánamo Detentions.
(a) Scope and Timing of Review. A review of the status of each individual currently detained at Guantánamo ("Review") shall commence immediately.
(b) Review Participants. The Review shall be conducted with the full cooperation and participation of the following officials:
(1) the Attorney General, who shall coordinate the Review;
(2) the Secretary of Defense;
(3) the Secretary of State;
(4) the Secretary of Homeland Security;
(5) the Director of National Intelligence;
(6) the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and
(7) other officers or full-time or permanent part-time employees of the United States, including employees with intelligence, counterterrorism, military, and legal expertise, as determined by the Attorney General, with the concurrence of the head of the department or agency concerned.
(c) Operation of Review. The duties of the Review participants shall include the following:
(1) Consolidation of Detainee Information. The Attorney General shall, to the extent reasonably practicable, and in coordination with the other Review participants, assemble all information in the possession of the Federal Government that pertains to any individual currently detained at Guantánamo and that is relevant to determining the proper disposition of any such individual. All executive branch departments and agencies shall promptly comply with any request of the Attorney General to provide information in their possession or control pertaining to any such individual. The Attorney General may seek further information relevant to the Review from any source.
(2) Determination of Transfer. The Review shall determine, on a rolling basis and as promptly as possible with respect to each individual currently detained at Guantánamo, whether it is possible to transfer or release the individuals consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and, if so, whether and how the Secretary of Defense may effect their transfer or release on appropriate terms and conditions. The Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and, as appropriate, other Review participants shall work to effect promptly the release or transfer of all individuals for whom release or transfer is possible on such terms and conditions.
(3) Determination of Prosecution. In accordance with United States law, the cases of individuals detained at Guantánamo not approved for release or transfer shall be evaluated to determine whether the Federal Government should seek to prosecute the detained individuals for any offenses they may have committed, including whether it is feasible to prosecute such individuals before a court established pursuant to Article III of the United States Constitution, and the Review participants shall in turn take the necessary and appropriate steps based on such determinations.
(4) Determination of Other Disposition. With respect to any individuals currently detained at Guantánamo whose disposition is not achieved under subsections (c)(2) or (c)(3) of this section, the Review shall select lawful means, consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice, for the disposition of such individuals. The appropriate authorities shall promptly implement such dispositions.
(5) Consideration of Issues Relating to Transfer to United States. The Review shall identify and consider legal, logistical, and security issues relating to the potential transfer of individuals currently detained at Guantánamo to facilities within the United States and the review participants shall work with Congress on any legislation that may be appropriate.
Sec. 5. Diplomatic Efforts. The Secretary of State shall expeditiously pursue and direct such negotiations and diplomatic efforts with foreign governments as are necessary and appropriate to implement this order.
Sec. 6. Humane Standards of Confinement. No individual currently detained at Guantánamo shall be held in the custody or under the effective control of any officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government, or at a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States, except in conformity with all applicable laws governing the conditions of such confinement, including Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. The Secretary of Defense shall immediately undertake a review of the conditions of detention at Guantánamo to ensure full compliance with this directive. Such review shall be completed within 30 days and any necessary corrections implemented immediately thereafter.
Sec. 7. Military Commissions. The Secretary of Defense shall immediately take steps sufficient to ensure that during the pendency of the Review described in section 4 of this order no charges are sworn, or referred to a military commission, under the Military Commissions Act of 2006,
Pub. L. 109-366, and the Rules thereto, and that all proceedings of such military commissions to which charges have been referred but in which no judgment has been rendered, and all proceedings pending in the United States Court of Military Commission Review, are halted.
Sec. 8. General Provisions.
(a) Nothing in this order shall prejudice the authority of the Secretary of Defense to determine the disposition of any detainees not covered by this order.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
[signed:] Barack Obama
THE WHITE HOUSE
January 22, 2009