Skip to main content

Obama plans executive order to close Guantanamo Bay

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Obama to issue 3 orders Thursday that break from Bush administration
  • NEW: Order 2 will ban torture by requiring use of Army field manual for interrogations
  • NEW: 3rd order will mandate review of detention policies and procedures
  • Military judge grants Obama's request to stay cases for 120 days
  • Next Article in Politics »
By Ed Henry and Barbara Starr
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Barack Obama is planning to issue three executive orders Thursday, including one demanding the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay be closed within a year, according to a senior administration official and a congressional aide.

A guard keeps watch from a tower at the military facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

A guard keeps watch from a tower at the military facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

A second executive order will formally ban torture by requiring the Army field manual be used as the guide for terror interrogations, essentially ending the Bush administration's CIA program of enhanced interrogation methods.

A third executive order, according to the officials, will order a systematic review of detention policies and procedures and a review of all individual cases.

The officials said new White House Counsel Greg Craig was briefing congressional Republicans Wednesday afternoon about the three executive orders.

"We've always said the process would include consultation," the senior administration official said of the closed-door meeting informing Republicans of the moves.

The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay became a lightning rod for critics who charged that the Bush administration had used torture on terror detainees. President George W. Bush and other senior officials repeatedly denied that the U.S. government had used torture to extract intelligence from terror suspects.

Obama's move will set off a fierce legal struggle over where the prison's detainees will go next. Video Watch experts debate the Gitmo dilemma »

"The key question is where do you put these terrorists," House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement issued Wednesday. "Do you bring them inside our borders? Do you release them back into the battlefield?"

The meeting with Craig did not address how the administration plans to handle Guantanamo detainees, said Rep. Bill Young of Florida, the top Republican on the Defense Appropriations Committee. The executive orders "will leave some wiggle room for the administration," he said.

Young said he has "quite a bit of anxiety" about transferring detainees to United States facilities.

"Number one, they're dangerous," he said. "Secondly, once they become present in the United States, what is their legal status? What is their constitutional status? I worry about that, because I don't want them to have the same constitutional rights that you and I have. They're our enemy." Video Watch what may happen to Gitmo's inmates »

He said he asked Craig what the government plans to do with two recently built facilities at Guantanamo, which he said cost $500 million. He said Craig had no answer, but pledged to discuss the issue further.

Young said he suggested reopening Alcatraz, the closed federal prison on an island outside San Francisco, California -- in Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's district.


"Put them in Alcatraz, where supposedly they can't escape from," Young said, but added the suggestion "didn't go over well."

The revelation coincided with a judge's decision on Wednesday to halt the September 11 terrorism cases at the behest of President Obama. On Tuesday, he directed Defense Secretary Robert Gates to ask prosecutors to seek stays for 120 days so terrorism cases at the facility can be reviewed, according to a military official close to the proceedings.

CNN's Susan Candiotti and Laurie Ure contributed to this report.

All About Guantanamo BayBarack Obama

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print