Just now in a signing ceremony in the Oval Office, where red apples were displayed in a large bowl, Obama followed through with two of his campaign promises: He signed an order mandating that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, be closed within a year. He also ordered that all agencies of Government (read: the CIA) abide by the interrogation rules prescribed by the Army Field Manual. “We believe that we can abide by a rule that says we don’t torture,” Obama said, surrounded by retired military leaders who opposed President Bush’s enhanced interrogation techniques. “We are not — as I said in the Inauguration — going to continue with a false choice between our safety and our ideals.”
UPDATE: At a background briefing happening now, a senior administration official explains that a task force will be set up to review the issue of extraordinary rendition, and also to review the possibility of developing a separate interrogation policy for intelligence agencies. The possibility of a separate interrogation policy for intelligence agencies was recently floated by Dianne Feinstein, the new Democratic head of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
FURTHER UPDATE: The official just made clear that any separate interrogation policy would not allow “different techniques” from the Army Field Manual. “We need a protocal that may be more appropriate for the intelligence scenario than for the battlefield scenario,” the official said. “That doesn’t mean reintroducing techniques that are inconsistent with the Army Field Manual.” The briefing is still ongoing. Will update as appropriate.
ANOTHER UPDATE: While Obama studies the rendition policy, renditions may continue, the official says. But there will be limits. “There is not going to be rendition to any country that engages in torture,” the official said.