He signed an executive order to require that all U.S. interrogations of terror suspects must now conform to the U.S. Army Field Manual, a move meant to restrict what the CIA can do. The president created an inter-agency task force to advise him on detainee policy.
In addition, the man tapped to oversee U.S. intelligence is promising Congress there will be no torture, harsh interrogations and warrantless wiretapping on his watch.
The direct quote from Obama:
Any interrogations taking place are going to have to abide by the Army Field Manual. We feel 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 obtain the intelligence that we need.
This is me following through on not just a commitment I made during the campaign, I think, but an understanding that dates to our founding fathers. That we are willing to observe core standards of conduct, not just when it's easy but when it's hard.
President Obama also harkend back to the Founding Fathers.
"This is following through not just on a commitment I made during the campaign but 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."
In related actions, Obama:
- Created a task force that would have 30 days to recommend policies on handling terror suspects who are detained in the future. Specifically, the group would look at what do do with the 245 Guantanamo detainees.
- Required all U.S. personnel to follow the U.S. Army Field Manual while interrogating detainees. The manual explicitly prohibits threats, coercion, physical abuse and waterboarding, a technique that creates the sensation of drowning and has been termed a form of torture by critics. However, a Capitol Hill aide says that the administration also is planning a study of more aggressive interrogation methods that could be added to the Army manual — which would create a significant loophole to Obama's action Thursday.
- Directed the Justice Department to review the case of Qatar native Ali al-Marri, who is the only enemy combatant currently being held on U.S. soil. The directive will ask the high court for a stay in al-Marri’s appeals case while the review is ongoing. The government says al-Marri is an al-Qaida sleeper agent.
Watch Keith Olbermann discuss this with Retired General Paul Eaton: