Obama To Sign Gitmo Closure Order Thursday
Lisa hasn't been seen or heard from since June 5, 2010. Although this remains a missing persons case, police have questioned Sherry Henry, Lisa's partner of 15 years, in her disappearance. Tina, Tammye and Joni's team of amateur detectives was organically created when the ladies joined ranks to keep Lisa's investigation active. / CBS
The executive order was one of three expected imminently on how to interrogate and prosecute al Qaeda, Taliban or other foreign fighters believed to threaten the United States.
A senior Obama aide said he would sign the order on Thursday, fulfilling his campaign promise to shut down a facility that critics around the world say violates domestic and international detainee rights. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because the event has not yet been announced.
The draft order also would declare a halt to all trials currently under way at the facility, where roughly 245 detainees in the battle against terrorism on terror are held.
The Bush administration created the detention facility after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Earlier Wednesday, a military judge agreed to President Obama's request to suspend the Guantanamo war crimes trial of
It is the first in a series of delays sought by Mr. Obama as his administration reviews the legal system for prosecuting alleged terrorists.
Army Col. Patrick Parrish, the judge in the case, issued a written order granting the 120-day suspension without a hearing.
Later, a judge is to consider suspending the case of five men charged in the Sept. 11 attacks.
In the motion filed for the Sept. 11 case, U.S. military prosecutor Clay Trivett said a continuance is necessary in all pending cases because the review may result in significant changes to the system.
"The interests of justice served by granting the requested continuance outweigh the interests of both the public and the accused in a prompt trial," Trivett wrote. He said the motion was written at the direction of the president and defense secretary.
"It will permit the newly inaugurated president and his administration to undertake a thorough review of both the pending cases and the military commissions process generally," he added.
Human rights groups at Guantanamo to observe this week's session of the war crimes court welcomed what appeared to be the looming end of the special tribunals.
"It's a great first step but it is only a first step," said Gabor Rona, international director of Human Rights First. "The suspension of military commissions so soon after President Obama took office is an indication of the sense of urgency he feels about reversing the destructive course that the previous administration was taking in fighting terrorism."
Mr. Obama has said he will close Guantanamo, where the U.S. holds about 245 men, and had been expected to suspend the widely criticized war-crimes trials created by former President George Bush and Congress in 2006.
The president's nominee for attorney general has said the so-called military commissions lack sufficient legal protections for defendants and that they could be tried in the United States.
But CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk says the new American leader faces a significant challenge in closing the prison camp. Mr. Obama needs to figure out what to do with the detainees already cleared for release, the detainees deemed low-level criminal suspects, and the handful of high-value detainees implicated directly in the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
"The Obama Administration needs time to formulate a detailed plan for closing the base and to negotiate with foreign leaders to accept detainees who cannot return to their home countries," said Falk, "and freezing the military tribunals gives it time to do that, while making sure no more harm is done."
Jamil Dakwar, director of the human rights program at the American Civil Liberties Union, said it was a positive step but "the president's order leaves open the option of this discredited system remaining in existence."
Relatives of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, who were also at the base to observe the hearings, have said they oppose any further delay in the trials of the men charged in the case.
The motion for a suspension came on the day a military judge adjourned the war crimes court just before Mr. Obama was sworn in by noting the future of the commissions is in doubt. The hearings were dismissed until Wednesday "unless otherwise ordered."
There are war crimes charges pending against 21 men, including the five charged with murder and other crimes in the Sept. 11 case. Judges will be required to suspend the other cases as well though hearings may not be necessary.
Mr. Obama's swift move to close Guantanamo has not been without opposition.
Sen. Sam Brownback introduced legislation Wednesday requiring President Barack Obama to give Congress a 90-day notice before moving to close the prison.
The Kansas Republican's bill also would require the president to provide a study on the feasibility of closing the facility in Cuba or transferring some 245 suspected terrorists to any other location.
One site often mentioned is the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, along with Camp Pendleton, Calif., and a Navy brig in South Carolina.
"We cannot afford to make snap decisions about detainee policy, and the American people should be able to judge any policy changes for themselves," Brownback said.
Given the timing, there is little chance Brownback's bill would be enacted before Obama issues an executive order. However, Brownback's staff said the legislation would be compatible with Obama's desire to make a decision within a year, giving ample time for review.
Fellow Republicans Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas and Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri co-sponsored Brownback's bill.
Navy Cmd. J.D. Gordon, spokesman for Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, said the Pentagon has made no decisions about detainees.
"We are examining any number of options and what it would take to implement such a decision if it were made," Gordon said.
Popular on CBSNews.com
- Tsarnaev friend implicates dead brother, self in murders 146 Comments
- Tornado victims start picking up the pieces
- Up-close video of Moore, Okla., tornado Play Video
- Victims of deadly Oklahoma tornado 6 Photos
- Tornado's destructive path 17 Photos
- Oklahoma tornado as seen by storm chasers Play Video
- Deadliest U.S. tornadoes 10 Photos
- 2 infants among 10 kids killed in Oklahoma tornado