And Then, on the Second Day

By Dan Froomkin
12:56 PM ET, 01/22/2009

This just in: We don't torture anymore.

Obama this morning signed three more executive orders, one requiring the closure of the prison at Guantanamo within a year, the second definitively banning torture and the third establishing a task force on interrogation and detainee policy. He also signed a memo requesting a review of the status of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, a legal resident who is currently held in a naval brig.

The first order, in addition to requiring the closure of the prison, calls for an immediate case-by-case review of the 245 detainees remaining there and a halt to the military commissions process.

The second order ensures that any interrogations of people detained by the United States will abide by the Army Field Manual, which currently covers military interrogations.

"We believe that the Army Field Manual reflects the best judgment of our military, that we can abide by a rule that says we don't torture, but that we can still effectively attain the intelligence that we need," Obama said.

"This is me following through on not just a commitment I made during the campaign, but I think an understanding that dates back to our Founding Fathers, that we are willing to observe core standards of conduct, not just when it's easy, but also when it's hard."

The order also requires all departments and agencies to provide the International Committee of the Red Cross access to detainees, and it orders the Central Intelligence Agency to close all existing detention facilities and prohibits the CIA from operating detention facilities in the future.

Obama continued: "With those three executive orders and this memorandum the message that we are sending around the world is that the United States intends to prosecute the ongoing struggle against violence and terrorism, and we are going to do so vigilantly; 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. . . .

"We think that it is precisely our ideals that give us the strength and the moral high ground to be able to effectively deal with the unthinking violence that we see emanating from terrorist organizations around the world.

"We intend to win this fights. We're going to win it on our terms."

Much more on this tomorrow.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company