In only his second full day in the Oval Office, President Barack Obama on Thursday began redefining the way the U.S. treats and prosecutes its terror detainees.
With the stroke of his pen, Obama issued three executive orders, including one to close the prison camp within the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba within one year. He also ordered a review of military trials of suspects and banned intelligence agencies from using harsh interrogation techniques.
"The message that we are sending around the world is that the United States intends to prosecute the ongoing struggle against violence and terrorism," Obama said after signing the orders. "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."
Closing Gitmo Complicated
Closing Guantanamo's detention center will be a complicated process and has left many unanswered questions on how detainees will be tried for war crimes.
"We will be setting up a process" to figure out the logistics of closing down Guantanamo, Obama told reporters. The President has set up a task force to determine how to handle future terror suspects and where the detainees would be housed.
The executive order also requires all U.S. personnel to follow the U.S. Army field manual while interrogating detainees.
Terror Trials Suspended
An estimated 245 men are being held at the prison, most of whom have been detained for years without being charged with a crime. Already, trials for terrorist suspects at the prison have been suspended for four months, pending a review.
"We intend to win this fight. We're going to win it on our terms," Obama said of the war on terrorism. But he added that he didn't want to force a "false choice" between successfully waging war against terrorist organizations and hewing to human rights ideals in the process.
"This is following through not just on a commitment I made during the campaign, but an understanding that dates back to our Founding Fathers," Obama said.
The Justice Department has also been ordered to review the case of the only enemy combatant currently being held on U.S. soil, Qatar native Ali al-Marri. The government maintains al-Marri is an al-Qaeda sleeper agent.
Sources: The Associated Press, CBN News, Fox News, Bloomberg.com