In an Executive Order issued January 22, President Barack Obama suspended active military commission proceedings at the United States detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
President Obama directed U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to take immediate steps to cease the swearing and referral of charges to military commissions under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and to halt all active proceedings, pending review of the status of each individual currently detained at Guantanamo.
Regarding activities at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, President Obama's executive order states that Guantanamo shall be closed within one year. That Order also establishes a task force to determine which detainees at Guantanamo Bay should be transferred, released, or tried, and which should face another disposition. A different Executive Order establishes a task force to develop a policy for handling detainees in the future.
The detention center at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Station has housed nearly 800 suspected terrorists captured in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. About 250 suspects are being held at Guantanamo today, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.
President Obama also issued an Executive Order mandating that the U.S. Army Field Manual, a manual that is used for interrogation of detainees, govern interrogation techniques by all intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
"The message we are sending the world," said President Obama, "is that the United States intends to prosecute the ongoing struggle against violence and terrorism and we are going to do so effectively and we are going to so in a manner that is consistent with our values and our ideals."