It's official: Guantanamo to close in a year
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01/22/09 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

President Barack Obama signed executive orders today effectively ending the CIA’s secret interrogation program, directing the closing of the Guatanamo 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.

The order to close the controversial detention camp where terrorism suspects have been detained for years without trial, fulfills a promise Obama made during his presidential election campaign.

Jonathan Turley is a law professor at George Washington University and an attorney in terrorism cases. He says Obama has distinguished himself in closing the Guantanamo Bay facility.

Obama also signed an order he said was designed to improve intelligence gathering and "promote the safe, lawful and human treatment" of people in U.S. custody who were detained in armed conflicts. The order ensures "compliance with the treaty obligations of the United States, including the Geneva Convention," Obama said. It provides that "any interrogations taking place are going to have to abide by the Army Field Manual."

Turley says Obama will find it very difficult to stop the investigation of torture ordered by the Bush administration.

The orders include an immediate case-by-case review of the 245 detainees remaining at Guantanamo, as well as the application of new rules governing the treatment and interrogation of prisoners, including compliance with international treaties that the Bush administration deemed inapplicable to suspects in terrorism cases.

Another question not answered today is whether the Obama administration will investigate those who may have committed torture.

Shayana Kadidal is the managing attorney for the Guatanamo Project for the Center of Constitutional Rights based in New York City. That legal firm has worked with many of those held at Guatanamo Bay over the years. He believes it’s correct to prosecute those who have committed possible war crimes.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the question of how to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp while also protecting the safety of the American people is a "challenge we will continue to face."

Gates says he believes there are ways of dealing with that challenge - but that there's "a lot of work to do."

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