President Donald Trump is reportedly considering signing an executive order that would direct the Pentagon to continue using the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba “for the detention and trial of newly captured” detainees linked to al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and Islamic State.
The New York Times (NYT) claimed to have obtained the Trump administration’s three-page draft executive order, titled “Detention and Interrogation of Enemy Combatants.” According to the Times, the order is also poised to lift the ban on CIA “black site” prisons overseas implemented by Barack Obama.
It “would also undo many of the other restrictions on handling detainees that Mr. Obama put in place in response to policies of the Bush administration,” notes NYT.
“If Mr. Trump signs the draft order, he would also revoke Mr. Obama’s directive to give the International Committee of the Red Cross access to all wartime detainees in American custody – another step toward reopening secret prisons outside of the normal wartime rules established by the Geneva Conventions,” adds the Times.
The order specifically says no prisoner should be tortured or otherwise subjected to cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment as “prescribed by U.S. law.”
NYT explains, “The draft order does not direct any immediate reopening of C.I.A. prisons or revival of torture tactics, which are now barred by statute. But it sets up high-level policy reviews to make further recommendations in both areas to Mr. Trump…”
The Times acknowledges that the Trump White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the draft order, including when the President may sign it.
In the text the Times published of the alleged order, the Trump administration criticizes Obama for having “refrained from exercising certain authorities” about detainees it said were critical to defending the United States from “radical Islamism.”
The draft order would also direct U.S. Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis to work with the attorney general and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to “review the military commissions system and recommend to the president how best to employ the system going forward to provide for the swift and just trial and punishment of unlawful enemy combatants detained in the armed conflict with violent Islamist extremists.”
Former President Obama, who vowed to shut down the Guantánamo facility, reduced the prison’s population to 41.
Of the 41 prisoners who remain at the Guantánamo detention center, also known as Gitmo, more than half are believed to be “forever prisoners,” or too dangerous to release.