…are now promises kept.
And methodically continuing onward.
President Barack Obama was to sign Thursday a series of executive orders to close the Guantanamo “war on terror” prison, end harsh interrogation tactics and shutter secret prisons, marking a dramatic reversal of policy from his predecessor.
The president was to kick off the day by signing an executive order that would start the process of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba, a White House official said.
“The detention facilities at Guantanamo 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,” said the draft order, posted on the website of the American Civil Liberties Union and confirmed by a White House source.
White House counsel Greg Craig told Democratic and Republican lawmakers late Wednesday “to expect ’several’ executive orders on Guantanamo Bay,” the Washington Post said citing sources familiar with the briefings.
The orders involve “altering CIA detention and interrogation rules, limiting interrogation standards in all US facilities worldwide to those outlined in the Army Field Manual, and prohibiting the agency from secretly holding terrorist detainees in third-country prisons,” it said.
The New York Times said the “orders would bring to an end a Central Intelligence Agency program that kept terrorism suspects in secret custody for months or years.” Source
The intelligence agency built a network of secret prisons in 2002 to house and interrogate senior Qaeda figures captured overseas. The exact number of suspects to have moved through the prisons is unknown, although Michael Hayden, the departing director of the agency, has in the past put the number at “fewer than 100.”
The secret detentions brought international condemnation, and in September 2006, President George W. Bush ordered that the remaining 14 detainees in CIA custody be transferred to Guantánamo Bay and tried by military tribunals.
But Bush made clear at the time that he was not shutting down the CIA detention system, and in the last two years, two Qaeda operatives are believed to have been detained in agency prisons for several months each before being transferred to Guantánamo Bay.
A government official said Obama’s order on the CIA would still allow its officers abroad to temporarily detain terrorism suspects and transfer them to other agencies, but would no longer allow the agency to carry out long-term detentions.
The order also directs an immediate assessment of the prison itself to ensure that the men are held in conditions that meet the humanitarian requirements of the Geneva Convention. That provision appeared to be a pointed embrace of the international treaties that the Bush administration often argued did not apply to detainees captured in the war against terrorism. Source
In under-the-radar developments, if an integrated classified intelligence/Pentagon version of Google (Spookle?) is to be set up, better it and its rules and strictures be set up by the new administration than the last.
U.S. spy agencies’ sensitive data should soon be linked by Google-like search systems, nearly five years after the intelligence community was rebuked by the 9/11 Commission for failing to “connect the dots” and detect the attack.
Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell has launched a sweeping technology program to knit together the thousands of databases across all 16 spy agencies. After years of bureaucratic snafus, intelligence analysts will be able to search through secret intelligence files the same way they can search public data on the Internet.
Linking up the 16 agencies is the challenge at the heart of the job of director of national intelligence, created after 9/11. Dennis Blair, nominated by President Barack Obama to succeed Mr. McConnell, faces a confirmation hearing Thursday where senators are likely to ask how he will make agencies with different histories and missions work together.
The new information program also is designed to include Facebook-like social-networking programs and classified news feeds.…
The program is likely to get a review from Mr. Blair. The new administration is expected to make sure it is adequately funded, effective and protects privacy.Source
That last bit in the snippet may be of the most import, expecially in consideration of keeping such a powerful tool within, and under the control of, mutliple entities (wherein the normalcy of bureaucratic tensions and inter-agency turf wars can act to mitigate and flag misuse, abuse and mission creep), ensuring it is not placed (or yanked) under direct, solitary control of any one of the departments or agencies designated as users and creating from the day it is switched on inextricably interwoven oversight and accountability with real teeth.
Addendum (10:45 a.m.):
It is well and good (and more than necessary) to virtually put a red ‘X’ through egregious, disreputable and venal policies of the last administration.
There remains more than sufficient room on the page (for example, number 3 as listed here) for the new administration to make its own marks.
Go for it.