Obama 'will close Guantanamo Bay'

In his first major interview since polling day, President-elect Barack Obama said last night that upon taking office he would close Guantanamo Bay and ban torture by the American military. He also said it would be "a disaster" if the US car industry were to collapse in the midst of today's economic crisis.

Mr Obama provided America with a glimpse of both the problems his administration will face and the bipartisan tone he intends to adopt once he takes office. The President-elect, joined by his wife, Michelle, discussed his priorities and the impact of the election on his family.

His first priority, he said, was appointing a new national security team to ensure a smooth transition to power. But the wide-ranging interview focused largely on the threats to the US economy. "It's my belief that we need to provide assistance to the auto industry," Mr Obama told CBS's 60 minutes, adding "But I think that it can't be a blank check."

The Senate, which he resigned from yesterday, is expected to vote this week on emergency loans to the beleaguered car industry, despite stiff opposition from Republicans.

Mr Obama meets his defeated rival, John McCain, today for the first time since crossing swords in the debates that punctuated their occasionally ill-tempered election battle. The meeting in Chicago is billed as an attempt to usher in a new era of bipartisanship, a frequent refrain of Mr Obama's on the campaign trail.

Unlike Mr Obama's other former rival, Hillary Clinton, who is among the top contenders for Secretary of State, Senator McCain is not being considered for a formal role in the administration. Advisers say he will be asked for help on issues where they share common ground, including climate change, ethics reform, immigration and torture.

That bipartisan mood between the former rivals may be tested if Mr McCain opposes a taxpayer bailout of Detroit. The new bill would allow some of the $700bn (£350bn) fund to bail out the financial services industry to be used to rescue the car industry.

Mr Obama said he wants the aid to ensure there is a sustainable car industry, "so that we are creating a bridge loan to somewhere as opposed to a bridge loan to nowhere. And that's, I think, what you haven't yet seen."

On the broader economy he said "the challenges that we're confronting are enormous, and they're multiple. And so there are times during the course of a given a day where you think, 'Where do I start in terms of moving – moving things forward?'

"And part of this next two months is to really get a clear set of priorities, understanding we're not going be able to do everything at once, making sure the team is in place, and moving forward in a very deliberate way and sending a clear signal to the American people that we're going to be thinking about them and what they're going through."

Mr Obama published a farewell letter to newspapers in Illinois to accompany his formal resignation of his Senate seat. He compared himself with Abraham Lincoln, "another son of Illinois" who had left for Washington, "a greater man who spoke to a nation far more divided".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Receptionist

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A bookkeeper/receptionist posit...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£28500 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers unique corp...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Product Support Specialists

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This world leader in the design...

Recruitment Genius: Field Engineer

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has 30 years of ex...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat