President Obama's first White House counsel, Greg Craig, didn't last a year in the job, but that didn't stop Obama from successfully changing many of the most controversial policies of George W. Bush. Harsh interrogations, which were curtailed in the last years of Bush, are now forbidden, as are CIA "black sites," where terrorism suspects were once imprisoned secretly overseas. Guantánamo Bay is destined for decommissioning as a detention center, though that deadline has slipped several times. Obama restricted the government's use of the so-called state-secrets privilege to derail civil lawsuits and released reams of once classified documents about the Bush interrogation program.
At the same time, other controversial policies from the Bush years have remained. Obama embraced an augmented form of Bush's military commission system for some detainees, defended the indefinite detention of some suspects captured in wartime and welcomed the use of national-security letters and other law-enforcement methods enshrined in the Patriot Act. In all, Obama has taken a largely pragmatic approach, jettisoning some programs, while embracing others that he sees as important to U.S. national security.