New Gitmo policies may not alter practices

Jan. 23, 2009 at 3:24 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. policy on accused terrorists detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, likely won't deviate much from its current form, a review of documents indicates.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order Thursday directing the detention camp be closed within the year. However, Politico reported the effect of that order and an order effectively banning the use of torture could be blunted.

Obama also signed an order directing that all agencies follow the Army Field Manual when interrogating prisoners who could be terror suspects, the Washington publication said.

He also inked a directive creating an interagency commission to examine whether to develop "additional or different guidance" for non-military agencies such as the CIA, which could potentially permit harsh interrogation techniques in the future.

Matthew Waxman, who worked on detention matters for the State Department during the Bush administration, said Obama's decision keep open the possibility of different guidance for CIA interrogators is a good one.

"I've worked on drafts of the Army Field Manual," Waxman said. "It's designed to be in the hands of tens of thousands of people who may not have a lot of training or supervision."

Another provision of Obama's orders called for military tribunals at Guantanamo to be "halted," but the administration wouldn't rule out reconsidering some sort of military forum to deal with some of the prisoners, Politico said.

"This order does not eliminate or extinguish the military commissions, it just stays all proceedings in connection with the ongoing proceedings in Guantanamo," White House council Greg Craig said, making clear that "improved military commissions" were still on the table.

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