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White House Press Secretary: Closing Guantanamo Will Increase U.S. Security

Posted by obama the antichrist on January 23, 2009


The closing of Guantanamo Bay detention center and using the Army Field Manual as the basis for all interrogation is aimed at protecting Americans, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday.

In his first press conference since President Obama was inaugurated, Gibbs said the orders “made America safer, made America stronger.”

“The president believes that there’s no more important job that he has than to keep the American people safe,” Gibbs said at the White House press briefing room.

“The president believes that what he did today will enhance the security of the American people, that it lives up to our values as Americans, and that it will protect the men and women that we have in uniform,” he said.


Earlier in the day, Obama signed three executive orders and one presidential directive that mandate that interrogation techniques in the Army Field Manual be used by all intelligence and law enforcement services; call for a task force to look at closing the detention center in Guantanamo Bay within the year; and order a strategy to be developed for handling detainees in the future. The presidential directive also orders a stay in the case of Ali Al-Marri, the only person being held by the military as an enemy combatant on U.S. soil.

Republicans say they are concerned that the decision will mean terrorist detainees will be brought to the U.S.  

“If a terrorist detainee is brought to the United States that terrorist is automatically afforded more constitutional rights than U.S. military personnel under the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner. That only increases the threat that a judge will release the detainee into the U.S. population. 

“Republicans want to work with our president to address these national security concerns, but we should not gamble with the safety and security of the American people and our troops on the battlefield,” he said.

But Gibbs said Obama consulted with several generals and flag officers involved in keeping the country safe before he made the decision to issue the orders.

“We’ve made our security stronger, we’ve done it in consultation with, as I said, members of current government, people that have been outside of government, people that have been involved in these decisions,” he said.

“There are certainly going to be people that are going to come at this from one angle. I think there are also a number of people that will come at it from the angle that the steps that were taken today ensure and enhance the security of the American people,” Gibbs continued.

Gibbs said that Obama was expected to make news during a trip to the State Department Thursday afternoon but didn’t want to precede him with the reveal. Later, Obama named Clinton Amb. Richard Holbrooke as a special emissary to Pakistan and Afghanistan and to appoint former Sen. George Mitchell as a special envoy to the Middle East.

As for the economy — another immediate and critical issue facing the president, who is going to be receiving daily economic briefings following his national security briefings each morning — Gibbs said the president was pleased that the Finance Committee voted out Tim Geithner to head the Department of Treasury.

Geithner, president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, and economic adviser Larry Summers have been helping Obama with the guidelines for spending the second half of a Troubled Assets Relief Program inherited by President Bush. 

On Thursday, in a purely symbolic vote, the House disapproved the release of the second half of the $700 billion package. The vote opposing the release had no force of law, however, because only one chamber in the Congress had to approve it and the Senate already did so

Gibbs said the president is working with his advisers on principles to ensure transparency, including limiting executive compensation, and making sure that the money given to financial institutions gets to the American people. 

“Larger decisions on how exactly to use that money going forward are part of an ongoing process that the economic team is formulating so that the president can make some decisions on,” he said.

On a separate matter, Gibbs said the president took the oath of office again “out of an abundance of caution.”

The 35-word oath was mangled during the inaugural ceremony on Tuesday in part because Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts misplaced the word “faithfully” while administering the oath. The oath is written into the U.S. Constitution.

The White House counsel did not believe a problem with the validity of Obama’s presidency had emerged as a result of the flub, but decided to do it once more just to be on the safe side.

“The counsel’s office believed strongly throughout the day that the president had been sworn in appropriately and effectively. Discussion later in the afternoon regarding the misplacement of a word and, because of that, and out of an abundance of caution, Chief Justice Roberts came last night to re-administer the oath,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs noted that twice before in history — Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Chester Arthur — the oath had been re-administered for similar reasons. 

He said the executive orders signed by Obama before the second oath were not signed a second time.

As to getting used to living in the White House, Gibbs said Obama is enjoying “living above the company store.” He said Obama is still trying to find the lay of the land, and at one point on Wednesday had to ask where to go next.

“It’s a pretty big house,” he said.

He added that the president is going to retain a security-enhanced BlackBerry that will allow him to stay in touch with senior staff and personal friends on a limited use.

“They are all subject to the Presidential Records Act. There are, as you know, some narrow exemptions in the presidential records act to afford some personal communications,” he said.


2 Responses to “White House Press Secretary: Closing Guantanamo Will Increase U.S. Security”

  1. Lawman2 said

    hey there ota sorry i was out of town last night.okay if i load a pic?

    great post by the way!


  2. Lawman2 said

    interesting that all the liberals haven’t jumped in on this post…


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