President Obama hit the ground running yesterday by moving to reverse a number of Bush policies, from preparing to shut down both the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay and any remaining secret prisons run by the CIA to instituting strict new ethics rules.
In a day that began with an inaugural prayer service at the National Cathedral, Obama launched into a series of executive orders. Many were ethics measures that he said were aimed at helping to "restore that faith in government without which we cannot deliver the changes we were sent here to make." They include forbidding lobbyists from taking White House jobs in an area they'd lobbied for as well as preventing former lobbyists who join the White House from being able to go back to lobbying after they depart.
While the moves are meant to send the message of a clean break from the Bush administration, however, they're not quite as forceful as what Obama had initially promised in his campaign—that lobbyists wouldn't be able to work in his administration at all.
In other orders, Obama also subjected his senior White House staff to a pay freeze, altered the government's stance toward the Freedom of Information Act to make information more accessible, and reversed Bush's order restricting access to White House documents.
Meanwhile, sources say that today, he plans to issue an order calling for Guantánamo Bay to be closed within a year. He had ordered for all judicial proceedings at the detention camp to be suspended on Tuesday, shortly after his inauguration.
He's also expected to sign executive orders reversing the CIA's stance toward prisoners, including limiting its interrogation standards to those in the U.S. Army Field Manual and forcing closure of whatever remains of the CIA's secret prison network worldwide.
In the midst of the busy day, a promising sign came for his administration. Despite a small hiccup, Hillary Clinton was confirmed as secretary of state. Republicans had delayed the vote for one day so that they could continue discussing foreign donations made to her husband's foundation. But other nominees, including Attorney General-designate Eric Holder and Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner are still battling for approval.
To top off Obama's first full day—and make absolutely sure that his work would not go to waste—Obama met with Chief Justice John G. Roberts again last night to re-administer the oath of office. This time, the words were in the right order.
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