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> Obama Closes Guantanamo Bay Prison, Obama signs executive order


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Posted: Jan 22 2009, 01:46 PM
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QUOTE
Obama signs executive order closing Guantanamo Bay prison camp
The Canadian Press
January 22, 2009
QUOTE
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama began overhauling U.S. treatment of terror suspects Thursday, signing orders to close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre, shut down secret overseas CIA prisons, review military war crimes trials and ban the harshest interrogation methods.

With his action, Obama started changing how the United States prosecutes and questions al-Qaida, Taliban or other foreign fighters who pose a threat to Americans - and overhauling America's image abroad, battered by accusations of the use of torture and the indefinite detention of suspects at the Guantanamo prison in Cuba.

"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," the president said.

The centrepiece order would close the much-maligned Guantanamo facility within a year, a complicated process with many unanswered questions that was nonetheless a key campaign promise of Obama's.

Among those held at the camp is 22-year-old Canadian Omar Khadr. The administration already has suspended several Guantanamo trials, including Khadr's, for 120 days pending a review of the military tribunals.

In the other actions, Obama:

-Created a task force to recommend policies on handling terror suspects who are detained in the future. Specifically, the group would look at where those detainees should be housed since Guantanamo is closing.

-Required all U.S. personnel to follow the U.S. Army Field Manual while interrogating detainees. The manual explicitly prohibits threats, coercion, physical abuse and waterboarding, a technique that creates the sensation of drowning and has been termed a form of torture by critics. However, a Capitol Hill aide says that the administration also is planning a study of more aggressive interrogation methods that could be added to the Army manual - which would create a significant loophole to Obama's action Thursday.

"We believe 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," Obama said. He said his action reflects an understanding that "we are willing to observe core standards of conduct, not just when it's easy, but also when it's hard."

A task force will study whether other interrogation guidelines - beyond what's spelled out in the army manual - are necessary for intelligence professionals in dealing with terror suspects.

But an Obama administration official said that provision should not be considered a loophole that will allow controversial "enhanced interrogation techniques" to be re-introduced. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to speak candidly about the administration's thinking.

The order also orders the CIA to close all its existing detention facilities abroad for terror suspects - and prohibits those prisons from being used in the future. The agency has used those secret "black site" prisons around the world to question terror suspects.

-Directed the Justice Department to review the case of Qatar native Ali al-Marri, who is the only "enemy combatant" currently being held on U.S. soil. The directive will ask the high court for a stay in al-Marri's appeals case while the review is ongoing. The government says al-Marri is an al-Qaida sleeper agent.

An estimated 245 men are being held at the U.S. naval base in Cuba, most of whom have been detained for years without being charged with a crime. Among the sticky issues the Obama administration has to resolve are where to put those detainees - whether back in their home countries or at other federal detention centres - and how to prosecute some of them for war crimes.

"We intend to win this fight. We're going to win it on our terms," Obama said as he signed three executive orders and a presidential directive.

The administration official said Obama's government will not transfer detainees to countries that will mistreat them, including their own home country.

In his first Oval Office signing ceremony, Obama was surrounded by retired senior military leaders. He described them as outstanding Americans who have defended the country - and its ideals.

Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianp...Rkw1UtXxvBombFw




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QUOTE
"Ye shall know them by their fruits"
~ Matthew 7:16

"Believe nothing. No matter where you read it, or who said it, even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."
~ Buddha
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Posted: Jan 22 2009, 01:49 PM
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Here's a related report....

QUOTE
Obama to close terrorist 'black sites'
Sara A. Carter  and Eli Lake
Thursday, January 22, 2009
President Obama on Thursday will order the closure of so-called black sites, where
QUOTE
CIA and European security services have interrogated terrorist suspects, under executive orders dismantling much of the Bush admistration's architecture for the war on terror, according to four individuals familiar with a draft executive order.

Mr. Obama will shutter "all permanant detention facilities overseas," the draft said, according to the individuals who asked not to be named because the orders have not yet been signed. There are at least eight such prisons, according to published reports. The Bush administration never revealed the number or location of the facilities, although several were said to be in Eastern Europe.

The individuals said there will be three executive orders. One will order the black sites closed and require all interrogations of detainees across the entire U.S. intelligence community to adhere to the U.S. Army Field Manual. The manual specifies a range of interrogation techniques that are not considered torture.

Another executive order will close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba within 12 months, in accordance with an Obama campaign pledge. The final order deals with overall detention policy.

The orders discuss the status of the estimated 250 detainees at Guantanamo and what to do with them and calls for a series of reviews on the status of the prisoners and the military commissions set up to try them. The review will look at transferring prisoners to military facilities in the United States.

Mr. Obama, in one of his first acts as president, on Wednesday suspended all the military commissions for 120 days. During his campaign and after his election, he promised that his administration would not practice torture. In his Inaugural address Tuesday, he said, "we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals … Those ideals still light the world and we will not give them up for expedience's sake."

Congressional committees were informally briefed about the executive orders on Wednesday. Administration officials discussed them with senior Republican legislators late Wednesday and will be briefing others opposed to changing current U.S. policies involving terrorist suspects, a former Justice Department official familiar with the drafts said. He asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the topic.

The official said "there are serious concerns as to where the detainees will be held" and that sending them "into the U.S. federal court system may lead to some of them being released" because the military commissions have different guidelines regarding evidence.

White House officials declined to comment on the status of the orders.

A Pentagon official said it "would be to speculative to say what will happen with each detainee once the facility is closed" but "clearly there are some dangerous detainees at Guantanamo and they will continue to fight us. It's still way to soon to make judgement calls as to what facilities they will be held in the U.S. or abroad." The official also asked not to be named.

Copyright 2009 The Washington Times, LLC

http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jan/2...st-black-sites/




--------------------
QUOTE
"Ye shall know them by their fruits"
~ Matthew 7:16

"Believe nothing. No matter where you read it, or who said it, even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."
~ Buddha
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Posted: Jan 23 2009, 01:18 PM
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Obama signs order to close Guantánamo Bay
Mark Tran
guardian.co.uk,
Thursday 22 January 2009
QUOTE
Prison that symbolises George Bush's 'war on terror' will be shut down, accompanied by ban on torture and review of military trials



Barack Obama has signed an executive order to shut down the US military prison at Guantánamo Bay – the most potent symbol of excess in George Bush's "war on terror".

The new US president signed two other executive orders to review the use of military trials for terror suspects and ban the harshest interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding.

The three executive orders – on the second day of the new administration – showed that Obama was determined to move swiftly to implement some of his key campaign pledges. Administration staff applauded at the signing ceremony in the Oval Office.

"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," Obama said. "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."

A draft copy of the order said: "In view of 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."

[Read a PDF copy of the order]

An estimated 245 men are being held at Guantánamo, a US naval base in Cuba. Most have been locked up for years without being charged with a crime. Obama's plans to review military trials of terror suspects and end harsh interrogations were being assembled even before he won the election in November.

The UN's torture investigator, Manfred Nowak, welcomed the move and said freed inmates should be allowed to sue the US if they had been mistreated. "Justice also means to look into the past," Nowak told the Associated Press. Nowak has previously said he has reliable accounts of torture at Guantánamo. Lawyers for two inmates, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Mohammed Jawad, have said their clients were tortured.

In Saudi Arabia, families of the country's 13 remaining Guantánamo detainees rejoiced at the news.

"That was a humane decision. We're very optimistic," said Ali al-Sayari, whose son Abdullah, 28, has been there for eight years. The family has not heard from or about him for the past two years.

"Obama is correcting the mistakes of his predecessor," said Ali al-Shamrani, whose nephew Mohammed al-Shamrani has been in Guantánamo for eight years.

Obama's nominee to be the director of national intelligence is set to tell Congress there will be no torture, harsh interrogations or wiretaps without warrants under his command.

In remarks prepared for his confirmation hearing, retired Admiral Dennis Blair said he believed "torture is not moral, legal or effective".

The signing of the executive orders came as Hillary Clinton, on her first day as secretary of state, pledged to pursue robust diplomacy and effective development to advance America's interests. About 1,000 state department employees gave Clinton a rousing welcome as she spoke at the main entrance to the building. She had been confirmed overwhelmingly in the job by the Senate.

"I will do all that I can working with you to make it abundantly clear that robust diplomacy and effective development are the best long-term tools for securing America's future," Clinton said. "I believe with all my heart that this is a new era for America."

Waiting for Clinton in her office was a letter of welcome and advice from her immediate predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, who was criticised by staff for not doing enough to increase funding for diplomats.

Obama is expected to name George Mitchell, the former Senate Democratic leader, as his Middle East envoy. Mitchell, 75, who helped broker the Good Friday peace accords in Northern Ireland, led an international commission under former president Bill Clinton that investigated the causes of the second intifada in 2000.

In his first full day on the job, the president yesterday telephoned several Middle Eastern leaders including president Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, in an indication that he will devote serious attention to the Middle East early on in his administration – in sharp contrast to Bush.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/2...-foreign-policy




--------------------
QUOTE
"Ye shall know them by their fruits"
~ Matthew 7:16

"Believe nothing. No matter where you read it, or who said it, even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."
~ Buddha
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Master Of His Domain
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Posted: Jan 25 2009, 10:50 PM
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Here's another related report....
QUOTE
Security experts skeptical on Gitmo detainee report
January 24, 2009
QUOTE
WASHINGTON (CNN)  -- Security experts are questioning information released by the Pentagon last week, saying 61 former detainees from its detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, may have returned to terrorist activities.

The report, released days before President Obama took office, says 18 former detainees are confirmed to have participated in attacks, and 43 are suspected to have been involved in attacks.

That figure would be about 11 percent of the roughly 520 prisoners who have been released from the Guantanamo facility, which Obama on Thursday ordered be shut down.

On Friday, a Pentagon spokesman defended the integrity of the report but would not directly answer questions about where the figures come from.

"We don't make these figures up. They're not done willy-nilly," spokesman Geoff Morrell said.

Pentagon officials have said they would not discuss how the statistics were derived because of security concerns that such information could give clues to how U.S. intelligence officers collect their data.

"It is painstakingly done by the Defense Intelligence Agency, and they go over this with great care," Morrell said.

He said evidence of someone being "confirmed" to have returned to terrorism could include fingerprints, a conclusive photograph or "well-corroborated intelligence reporting."

CNN has learned that some former Guantanamo detainees have returned to the fight.

An al Qaeda video viewed by CNN's Nic Robertson showed militants labeled with their former prisoner numbers. Saeed Shihri, Prisoner No. 372, is believed to have been responsible for an attack on the U.S. embassy in Yemen that killed nearly a dozen people in September, barely a year after he was released from Guantanamo.

A U.S. counter-terrorism expert said Shihri is one of al Qaeda's top leaders in Yemen. Video Watch former Gitmo detainee train with al Qaeda »

Others have included Abdullah Mahsud, who blew himself up to avoid capture by Pakistani forces in July 2007, and Ruslan Anatolivich Odizhev, who was transferred to Russia in March 2004 and killed in a June 2007 gunbattle with Russian security forces.

Peter Bergen, a national security expert and CNN analyst, notes that of the 18 people the Pentagon says are confirmed to have engaged in terrorism, only a handful of names have been released.

If one accepts that all 18 on the "confirmed" list have returned to the battlefield, that would be 4 percent of the detainees who have been released, Bergen said.

Bergen also noted Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics data that show the recidivism rate for U.S. state prisoners who have been released is more than 65 percent. Those same numbers show that about half of the released prisoners are returned to prison.

Bergen said that some of the prisoners at Guantanamo may not have been terrorists at all but were singled out by vengeful villagers who told U.S. authorities they were al Qaeda.

"We know that a lot of people who were in Guantanamo don't qualify as being the 'worst of the worst,'" he said, quoting former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's assessment.

Bergen said some of those "suspected" to have returned to terrorism are so categorized because they publicly made anti-American statements, "something that's not surprising if you've been locked up in a U.S. prison camp for several years."

In a briefing Thursday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates -- an advocate for closing Guantanamo while serving under President Bush and, now, under President Obama -- seemed to downplay the number of former detainees who have returned to fighting.

"It's not as big a number if you're talking about 700 or a thousand or however many have been through Guantanamo," he said.
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As the Pentagon begins the work of closing the facility and finding places to send, or release, detainees there, Gates stressed that security will remain his top concern.

"Clearly, the challenge that faces us, and that I've acknowledged before, is figuring out how do we close Guantanamo and, at the same time, safeguard the security of the American people," he said. "That's the challenge that we will continue to face."

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/01/24/git...nees/index.html




--------------------
QUOTE
"Ye shall know them by their fruits"
~ Matthew 7:16

"Believe nothing. No matter where you read it, or who said it, even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."
~ Buddha
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