Orders signed by Obama raise questions

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, President Barack Obama issued sweeping orders to rein in secretive U.S. counterterror policies and end harsh interrogations, prompting immediate skepticism over how and whether they would work to keep Americans safe.

Obama’s three executive orders, coming on Day Two of his presidency, sought to show that the United States does not torture and abides by domestic and international laws governing the treatment of detainees.

“The message that we are sending the world is that the United States intends to prosecute the ongoing struggle against violence and terrorism,” the president said. “And we are going to do so vigilantly, and we are going to do so effectively, and we are going to do so in a manner that is consistent with our values and our ideals.”

Shortly afterward, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs acknowledged that the new rules raise “very complex, very detailed questions” about how they will be carried out.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra, top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said the orders place “hope ahead of reality” because of the yet-unanswered concerns.

“Given the stakes and unanswered questions, it seems premature for the president to have signed the orders today,” said Hoekstra, R-Mich. “One of the biggest challenges we face is that many decisions made early on after 9/11 were made without a clear plan. Is the president risking the same mistakes by making decisions before having a clear plan in place?”