WASHINGTON, Jan 22 (KUNA) — US President Barack Obama on Thursday signed an order to close the controversial military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, He signed an order to forbid controversial interrogation techniques which many describe as “torture.” The first order provides for a process whereby Guantanamo will be closed “no later than one year from now,” Obama said during the signing ceremony at the White House. The President said a process would be setup to determine where the around 245 Guantanamo detainees’ would would be going.
With a group of U.S. military flag officers standing behind him, Obama described them as people who “made a passionate plea that we restore the standards of due process and the core constitutional values that have made this country great even in the midst of war, even in dealing with terrorism.” Obama then signed three more related orders, the first of which dealt with allegations that the US military and Central Intelligence Agency engaged in torture of terrorist suspects during the administration of former President George W. Bush.
The order would “ensure compliance with the treaty obligations of the United States, including the Geneva Conventions,” Obama said, and effectively ensure that anyone detained by the United States, and subject to interrogations, would be dealt with by people who must abide by the U.S. Army Field Manual. That manual “reflects the best judgment of our military that we can abide by a rule that says we do not torture, but that we can still effectively obtain the intelligence that we need,” the President said.
“This is me following through on not just a commitment I made during the campaign, but I think an understanding that dates back to our Founding Fathers, that we are willing to observe core standards of conduct not just when it is easy, but also when it is hard,” Obama said.
The third order signed by the President would setup a special interagency task force on detainee disposition that would be made up of the attorney general, secretary of Defense, secretary of State, secretary of Homeland Security, director of National Intelligence, director of the CIA, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and others who may be needed, Obama said.
“They are going to provide me with information in terms of how we are able to deal in the disposition of some of the detainees that may be currently in Guantanamo that we cannot transfer to other countries, who could pose a serious danger to the United States, but we cannot try because of various problems related to evidence in an Article III (regular U.S. federal) court,” Obama said.
The task force will address “detainee policy going forward, so that we do not find ourselves in these kinds of situations in the future, and that we are providing clear guidance to our military in terms of how to deal with it,” Obama said.
Lastly, the President signed a memorandum that deals with specific issues related to the detention of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, a legal U.S. resident whose case is before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“He is clearly a dangerous individual,” Obama said. “We have asked for a delay in going before the Supreme Court and dealing with this case so that we can properly review the evidence against him and the various policies that have been presented up until this time.” With the three executive orders and the memorandum, “the message that we are sending around 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, 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,” the President said.
The ideals of the United States “give us the strength and the moral high ground to be able to effectively deal with the unthinking violence that we see emanating from terrorist organizations around the world,” Obama said. “We intend to win this fight. We are going to win it on our terms.”