WASHINGTON -- President Obama, putting his executive pen in his left hand to overrule eight years of Bush administration policy, signed "several" executive orders Thursday, including ones affecting national security and abortion policy.
The national security orders mandate that interrogation techniques in the Army Field Manual be used by all intelligence and law enforcement services; call for a task force to look at closing the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within the year; and orders a strategy to be developed for handling detainees in the future. The presidential directive also orders a stay in the case of Ali Al-Marri, the only person being held by the military as an enemy combatant on U.S. soil.
"We intend to win this fight. We're going to win it on our terms," Obama said as he signed the orders and the directive in the Oval Office. Obama explained each order before he put his pen to them, in some cases reading them in full, and occasionally solicited input from White House counsel Greg Craig to make sure he was describing them correctly.
The executive order says everyone in custody should be questioned under the Army Field Manual, which is intended for honorable combatants, meaning POWs in a military conflict. The rule would prevent trained interrogators at the CIA from using lawful interrogation techniques against terrorists who have been trained to withstand Army Field Manual techniques.
"The message that we are sending the world is that the United States intends to prosecute the ongoing struggle against violence and terrorism 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," the president said.
According to sources in the law enforcement community, the executive order on interrogation does not declare "enhanced interrogation techniques" to be torture; the order is silent on that.
"This allows for a lot of flexibility, a lot of wiggle room," said one source.
While the administration has insisted on one interrogation standard, one source says they are thinking about assembling a group within the next 60 days to make recommendations on a set of separate techniques for the intelligence community to use.
White House counsel Greg Craig acknowledged late Wednesday that the administration will have to establish a panel to make recommendations to address intelligence community concerns.
Separately, according to a draft of the Guantanamo order, "the prompt disposition" of detainee cases should "precede" the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison. Whether that means the detainees have to be tried if possible before the closure is still unclear.
The draft also appears to indicate that Obama will leave open a back door in the order ending the military tribunals.
Obama has said he wants to end the military commissions process but does not have anything to replace it. So, sources say, the administration will seek recommendations within the next six or seven months on how to try them.
Administration officials indicated they do not want detainees outside of the U.S. to get habeas corpus rights or rights similar to those enjoyed by U.S. citizens. The Obama administration will likely go to Congress for what it wants to accomplish.
The order directs all information regarding the remaining 245 detainees be consolidated in a central repository and will create a panel to review those cases and split the detainees up into three categories.
Category one is comprised of the 70 detainees that President Bush sought to repatriate but couldn't because no country wants them, and they would likely be tortured at home. The Obama administration believes they can get foreign countries to take them.
Category two is the group of detainees that can be prosecuted under war crimes in Article III courts federal courts designed to address cases that involve citizens of other countries or tried in modified military commissions. This includes Sept. 11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. The administration would seek a stay on habeas petitions in Article III courts and continuances on the ongoing military commissions.
Category three is made up of detainees who can't be released and can't be tried. The thought is to create a panel, which could turn into a national security court, to handle these future highest-value detainees to determine prospective policy since terrorists like Al Qaeda chief Usama bin Laden will continue to be caught.
As for Al-Marri, whose case is before the Supreme Court, the intent is to try to make sure the detainee is tried according to the same rules as others who will be subject to the new orders.
Al-Marri was arrested in Peoria, Ill., a couple of months after the Sept. 11 attacks and is accused of being an al Qaeda operative sent to the United States on Sept. 10, 2001, to take part in another attack.
In 2003, President Bush signed an executive order labeling Al-Marri an "enemy combatant" and removing him from civilian custody. The order made the Defense Department responsible for Al-Marri who has been kept in isolation at the Navy brig in Charleston, S.C. His lawyers argue that the president has no "inherent authority" to hold him without charge for an unlimited time.
Separately, the administration in the afternoon issued a reversal of a ban on federal funding for non-governmental organizations working outside the U.S. that offer abortions or abortion counseling.
Obama signed the executive order on the 36th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in all 50 states.
FOX News' Jim Angle, Major Garrett, Chad Pergram, Lee Ross and Mike Levine contributed to this report.