Is the Trump administration considering refilling Gitmo?

One President Obama's first day in office, he announced that he would close the terrorist prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Eight years later, Guantanamo is still open, although most of its inmates have been released - with catastrophic consequences. Up to 30% of released detainees have gone on to commit terrorist attacks - at least 12 former detainees have killed Americans.

Now the Trump administration is seriously considering sending more terrorists to the prison camp, despite universal opposition from human rights groups around the world.

The Hill:

The Trump administration appears to be making its first moves toward fulfilling a campaign promise to fill the Guantanamo Bay prison camp with “bad dudes.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein visited the prison on Friday to get an update on current operations, the first concrete action the administration has taken on the facility since taking office. 

Up until now, Guantanamo has been running on autopilot; the executive order from former President Obama calling for the facility to be shut down is still technically the law of the land. 

But President Trump promised during the campaign to “load it up with some bad dudes,” and Sessions has called it a “very fine place” with no legal reason not to send new detainees there. 

Supporters of keeping the facility open and sending new detainees there are confident Trump will fulfill that promise, even if little movement has been made. 

“We have taken off the table the silly ideas that the previous administration had about Guantanamo,” said David Rivkin, constitutional litigator and a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who served under Presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush in the White House counsel’s office and the Justice Department.

Obama, having failed in his efforts to close the facility, left Guantanamo with 41 detainees. Five of those detainees were cleared for transfer by either the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force set up in 2009 or the interagency Periodic Review Boards set up in 2011. 

Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, various draft executive orders floated around Washington that would have moved to fulfill Trump campaign promise to begin sending new prisoners to the facility.

The orders would have revoked Obama’s executive order and suspended any existing transfer efforts pending a new review. They also would have called for the continued operation of Guantanamo to hold and try members of al Qaeda, the Taliban and “associated forces,” including the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

But no such orders have been signed

It was always perplexing to listen to President Obama talk about Guantanamo. His explanation for closing the facility always centered on what other people thought about the prison camp. His contentions about keeping Gitmo open because it was "creating more terrorists" was always absurd on its face. 

President Trump is, if nothing else, fairly pragmatic about what to do with captured terrorists. Perhaps he will also get the military tribunals off square one and have the judges get busy convicting the most dangerous of the terrorists. At the very least, giving them life sentences or the death penalty will make Guantanamo vitally necessary again. Not state wants the mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in one of their prisons awaiting execution and no state should be asked to house him.

To believe Guantanamo is not necessary is to believe that ISIS and a rejuvenated al-Qaeda (not to mention other terrorist groups with an international reach) can be dealt with by civil authorities. Recall the reaction when Obama's justice department suggested that KSM be tried in New York. All those nice, clean liberals rose up and strongly opposed the idea. Would any city in the US act differently?

The facility is already in place. It would be a shame to see it go to waste for lack of inmates.


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