Donald Trump promised during the campaign that he would not only keep the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, open but also send additional terrorists prisoners there.
It now appears that his administration is serious about keeping that campaign promise.
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.
First, you would hope that the administration abandons the idea of sending any more prisoners to other countries. Up to 30 detainees who have been released have gone on to commit more terrorist acts (several dozen more have rejoined jihad, according to the Pentagon), while it is believed that 12 former detainees have participated in terrorist attacks against Americans.
The whole point of locking them up at Guantanamo was to neutralize terrorists and prevent them from harming anyone else. But the two previous presidents — Bush and Obama — bowed to pressure from human rights groups and began transferring the terrorists to other countries.
The administration will not be shipping terrorists to Guantanamo in the numbers sent during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But certainly we will be using special forces to grab some of the more prominent terrorists around the world and will capture terrorists here in America.
It will be good to have a secure facility where they can be sent, confident that their days of killing innocents are over.