Obama Retakes Oath of Office... In PRIVATE... Obama Sworn in Without Hand on Bible!

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Wed, 01/21/2009 - 11:28pm.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts was ushered into the Map Room of the White House on Wednesday night to re-administer the oath of office to President Barack Obama because the original oath on Tuesday had a word out of sequence.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the move was made out of "an abundance of caution" in consultation with White House Counsel Greg Craig. Obama's second swearing-in, devoid of the pomp of the initial event, took place at 7:35 p.m. in the presence of a few aides and a press pool. The chief justice was wearing a court robe. "Are you ready to take the oath?" Roberts said. "I am," Obama said, "And we're going to do it very slowly."

It capped a packed first full day for the 44th president, and comes on the heels of Obama's expected signing of an executive order, as soon as Thursday, shuttering the terrorism detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

Obama began the day by attending a prayer service at the Washington National Cathedral, a tradition for new presidents.

He also celebrated a political victory as his former presidential primary rival, Hillary Clinton, was confirmed by the Senate as secretary of state, with a vote of 94-2.

He appeared to be moving full steam ahead on plans to halt military commission trials at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba detention camp and to close the facility within a year. The new president on Tuesday ordered a 120-day halt to military tribunals there. A draft order of the closure plans was circulating around Washington on Wednesday; the American Civil Liberties Union posted a copy on its Web site.

Obama also found time to call four Middle Eastern leaders on Wednesday morning: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Jordan's King Abdullah II and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement that Obama emphasized protecting a cease-fire in Gaza in part by blocking arms smuggling to Hamas and in part through reconstruction efforts.

Gibbs said that Obama thought it was important "on his first day in office to communicate his commitment to active engagement in pursuit of Arab-Israeli peace from the beginning of his term, and to express his hope for their continued cooperation and leadership."

Later, Obama announced during remarks at a swearing-in ceremony for White House staff and Cabinet officials that he'd freeze the pay of White House employees who make more than $100,000 a year. He told his senior staff that given the economic climate, "it's what's required of you at this moment."

He signed two executive orders and three memoranda to implement the pay freeze, ethics and public records changes.

The executive order on ethics prohibits executive branch employees from accepting gifts from lobbyists. It prohibits anyone who works for the administration to leave and lobby the executive branch "for as long as I am president," Obama said. It also precludes lobbyists hired by his administration from dealing with agencies on matters they lobbied about for two years.

A second order revokes an executive order signed by former President George W. Bush in 2001 that limited release of former presidents' records, and replaces it with new language aimed at more transparency. Obama's order could expand public access to the records of Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney, as well as other former leaders, in the years to come, said Steven Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists.

"It's extraordinary that a new president would address this issue on his first full day in office," Aftergood said. "It signifies the great importance he attaches to open, accountable government. The new order suggests President Obama will take a narrow view of executive privilege and assert it in a much more limited way than what we've seen in the recent past."

Bush's order gave former presidents broad ability to claim executive privilege and to designate others — including family members who survive them — to exercise executive privilege on their behalf. Obama's new order gives ex-presidents less leeway to withhold records, Aftergood said, and revokes the ability of presidents' survivors to exercise that privilege.

Another Obama memo issued on Wednesday appears to rescind a 2001 memo by Bush's then-Attorney Gen. John Ashcroft giving agencies broad legal cover to reject public disclosure requests.

"For a long time now, there's been too much secrecy in this city," Obama said. "This administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information but with those who seek it to be known," Obama said. "The mere fact that you have the legal power to keep something secret does not mean you should always use it.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

Obama met in the afternoon with his economic advisers. Republicans in the House of Representatives told him they wanted a meeting as soon as Thursday to talk about their party's competing economic stimulus plan.

Also on Wednesday, Obama met in the Situation Room with his defense secretary, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and others to discuss Iraq and national security.

Obama has said that on his first day he'd ask top military officials to give him a plan for withdrawing combat troops from Iraq over a 16-month period and redeploying some to Afghanistan.

Amid all his activity, there also was some time for levity, as the new president and vice president entered a new routine.

At the staff swearing in, Vice President Joe Biden took a jab at Chief Justice John G. Roberts, who'd a day earlier fumbled the wording of Obama's oath of office while administering it. Biden asked for the text to administer the staff oath, saying, "My memory is not as good as Justice Roberts," to which the staffers replied, "Ooh!"

After the staff swearing in, Obama was still trying to get his bearings. "I think I'm all done," he said.

At an afternoon White House open house for private citizens, also an inaugural tradition, Obama joked with one young man, "Roam around. Don't break anything!"

Margaret Talev - January 21, 2009 - source McClatchyDC

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Wed, 01/21/2009 - 11:28pm.

Comments

Anonymous (not verified) | Tue, 01/27/2009 - 1:52am

All I can say is "Don't Roberts Me, Chief!"