NEW YORK TIMES: Saying that “our ideals give us the strength and moral high ground” to combat terrorism, President Obama signed executive orders Thursday effectively ending the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret interrogation program, directing the closing of the Guantánamo Bay detention camp within a year and setting up a sweeping, high-level review of the best way to hold and question terrorist suspects in the future.
“We intend to win this fight,” Mr. Obama said, “We are going to win it on our own terms.”
As he signed three orders, 16 retired generals and admirals who have fought for months for a ban on coercive interrogations stood behind him and applauded. The group, organized to lobby the Obama transition team by the group Human Rights First, did not include any career C.I.A. officers or retirees, participants said.
One of Mr. Obama’s orders requires the C.I.A. to use only the 19 interrogation methods outlined in the Army Field Manual, ending President Bush’s policy of permitting the agency to use some secret methods that went beyond those allowed to the military.
“We believe we can abide by a rule that says we don’t torture, but we can effectively obtain the intelligence we need,” Mr. Obama said. The orders, and Mr. Obama’s televised statement, marked an abrupt break with some of the most disputed policies of the Bush administration. Critics for years have accused Mr. Bush of permitting torture, while the former president and vice president, Dick Cheney, insisted their methods were lawful and had prevented a repeat of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
But the orders leave unresolved complex questions surrounding the closing of the Guantánamo prison, including whether, where and how many of the detainees are to be prosecuted. They could also allow Mr. Obama to reinstate the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation operations in the future, by presidential order, as some have argued would be appropriate if Osama bin Laden or another top-level leader of Al Qaeda were captured. MORE
REUTERS: President Barack Obama, who worried after winning office that he would have to part with his BlackBerry because of security concerns, will get to keep the addictive email device after all. “The President has a BlackBerry through a compromise that allows him to stay in touch with senior staff and a small group of personal friends in a way that use will be limited,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Thursday. Security on the device has been enhanced, he said. Obama, who was sworn in as president on Tuesday, is known to be an avid user of the mobile device made by Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM.TO), and he has resisted staffers’ efforts to force him to give it up. Presidential emails are considered to be public records, Gibbs said, and thus subject to disclosure after the president leaves office. Neither George W. Bush nor Bill Clinton used email during their presidencies. MORE