Obama signs orders to close Gitmo, shut secret CIA prisons
John Byrne and David Edwards
Published: Thursday January 22, 2009

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President Barack Obama on Thursday signed several executive orders that alter the Central Intelligence Agency's protocol for detaining suspects and interrogating them.

The move also ends the practice of secret CIA prisons -- but an Obama spokesman told the New York Times that this won't prevent the CIA from capturing suspects and holding them in temporary detention -- leaving CIA policy slightly open-ended.

Obama also signed an executive order to close within a year the US "war on terror" prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a White House official confirmed earlier.

White House counsel Greg Craig spoke to Democratic and Republican lawmakers late Wednesday and "told members of Congress to expect 'several' executive orders on Guantanamo Bay," the Washington Post said citing sources familiar with the briefings.

Reported the Post:

White House counsel Gregory B. Craig, who has spent the past several weeks drafting the orders, and discussed them with senior Democratic lawmakers in recent days, briefed House Republicans on Capitol Hill yesterday. Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) said Craig told members of Congress to expect "several" executive orders on Guantanamo Bay, including closure of the prison, but did not provide specific language.

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement that "there are important questions that must be answered before the terrorist detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay can be closed. The key question is where do you put these terrorists?"

Sources familiar with the briefings said Obama also will sign two executive orders altering CIA detention and interrogation rules, limiting interrogation standards in all U.S. facilities worldwide to those outlined in the Army Field Manual, and prohibiting the agency from secretly holding terrorist detainees in third-country prisons.

A revised version of the Army Field Manual was released in 2006, explicitly banning controversial techniques such as beating, using dogs to indimate them, electric shocks and waterboarding, which critics say is tantamount to torture.

The New York Times said the "orders ... bring to an end a Central Intelligence Agency program that kept terrorism suspects in secret custody for months or years," and "also prohibit the CIA from using coercive interrogation methods."

With AFP.

This video is from MSNBC's News Live, broadcast Jan. 22, 2009.

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