Digital News Report- The White House held its first briefing under the Obama administration today. Topics covered included the Guantanamo Bay prison and the President’s second swearing in ceremony that occurred on Wednesday night, which many members of the press did not have access to. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs seemed relaxed and even joked with the press to not laugh at things he said that, “are not generally funny.”
When questioned about interrogation techniques, Gibbs responded by saying that President Obama’s top priority is “keeping America safe,” but that the process of closing Guantanamo Bay has begun. President Obama has promised to close the Guantanamo Bay prison within his first year in office and signed an Executive Order as one of his first acts as President. Gibbs repeated numerous times that the President felt that the closure of the prison strengthened America’s security.
Gibbs was also asked about the second swearing in that Obama underwent on Wednesday and whether or not Executive Orders issued before that would be affected. He reiterated that Obama has officially been President since noon on Tuesday, but that the second swearing in was done because of an “abundance of caution.” He assured the press that the Executive Orders would not be affected.
The President’s order to restrict lobbying activities of certain White House personnel was also questioned during the briefing. Gibbs described it as the “strongest ethical guidelines,” ever passed. The order, entitled “Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel”, limits the hiring of employees by the executive branch to only qualified individuals, and places tight restrictions on lobbying in the White House. Under the order, White House personnel would not be able to lobby the administration after leaving their position.
A member of the press also asked how the first family was settling in and Gibbs assured them that they were doing well. On Wednesday, Obama even made time to have dinner with his family.