The Los Angeles Times: "Moving to claim what he described as 'the moral high ground,' President Obama took a series of steps Thursday to dismantle the most widely condemned components of the Bush administration's war on terrorism. Obama issued a trio of executive orders to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp within a year, permanently shut the CIA's network of secret overseas prisons and end the agency's use of interrogation techniques that critics describe as torture."
"But on a day meant to demonstrate a clean break from the policies of his predecessor, Obama put off many of the most difficult decisions about what the U.S. will do with detainees, and left room to revisit whether the CIA still should have permission to use coercive methods when questioning captives."
The New York Times: "Among the questions that the White House did not resolve on Thursday were these: What should be done with terrorists who cannot be tried in American courts, either because evidence against them was obtained by torture or because intelligence is too sensitive to use in court? Should some interrogation methods remain secret to keep Al Qaeda from training to resist them? How can the United States make sure prisoners transferred to other countries will not be tortured?"
The Washington Post's Priest uses the executive orders yesterday to note that Obama has ended Bush's definition of the "war on terror." But do note that when asked directly about this yesterday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs suggested that there hadn't really been a declaration of the end of the war on terror, and Obama has frequently used that phrase as well.
The New York Post: "But families of the 9/11 fallen slammed Obama for going soft on terrorists. 'The terrorists are going to be cheering,' said FDNY Fire Lt. Jim McAffrey, whose brother-in-law, FDNY Battalion Chief Orio Palmer, was killed at Ground Zero. 'It's the wrong move. It sends a chilling message to people who are trying to fight the war on terror.'"
A harder line towards China? "Timothy F. Geithner, who moved closer to confirmation as Treasury secretary on Thursday, told senators that President Obama believed China was 'manipulating' its currency, suggesting a more confrontational stance toward that country than under the Bush administration," the New York Times writes.
USA Today covers Hillary Clinton's first full day at the State Department. "President Obama stood next to Hillary Rodham Clinton on her first day as secretary of State on Thursday and proclaimed 'a new era for American leadership' through diplomacy. To prove his point, he named high-profile envoys charged with re-energizing U.S. policy toward two vexing global flashpoints. Obama and Clinton tapped former Senate majority leader George Mitchell, who negotiated a 1998 peace deal in Northern Ireland, to tackle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And they hired former assistant secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, who brokered a 1995 truce among warring factions in Bosnia, to coordinate policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the U.S. military is fighting a growing insurgency."
The New York Times adds, however that the "appointment of such diplomatic heavyweights could pose a challenge to Mrs. Clinton as she seeks to carve out her place as the nation's chief diplomat. Each was once viewed as a potential secretary of state, and Mr. Holbrooke, in particular, will have a wide-ranging portfolio."
Per NBC's Libby Leist, Secretary of State Clinton is scheduled to address USAID employees at noon ET at the Ronald Reagan Building in D.C.
The appointment of William Lynn has raised hard questions of hypocrisy for the Obama administration. (Obama proposed rules against lobbyists, yet nominated former Raytheon lobbyist Lynn as the Pentagon's No. 2). Michigan Democrat "[Carl] Levin said he was worried that if Lynn had to recuse himself from any issue that could affect Raytheon, he would be unable to do his job effectively. The Pentagon deputy typically runs much of the day-to-day operation of the Defense Department and handles many key budget and procurement decisions."
But look at what was apparently behind the choice: "Gates pushed hard for Lynn's appointment and favored him over other officials suggested by the Obama transition team. At a news conference Thursday, Gates said he was impressed with Lynn and argued he should get the job despite the lobbying ban."