The Trump Administration wants Guantanamo Bay’s military prosecutions and interrogation program expanded.
Asked if the president would send U.S. citizens:
“He believes Guantanamo Bay does serve very healthy purpose in our national security in making sure we don’t bring terrorists to our seas, but I’m not gonna get into what we may or may not do in the future,” Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.
In a recent Fox interview, the Homeland Security secretary did not dismiss the idea.
“If an American terror suspect was picked up overseas would you support sending them to Guantanamo Bay for questioning?”
“If it was legal, um I think Guantanamo Bay offers some opportunities,” John Kelly said.
Kelly — who oversaw Guantanamo as head of southern command — said the Navy base, strategically located on the tip of Cuba, puts distance between detainees and terror groups.
“The beauty of the place was its isolation. They couldn’t get to it. There was no place they could strike because they couldn’t get there,” Kelly said.
In August, then-candidate Trump said he was “fine” with the idea of prosecuting Americans at Gitmo and his team would place a premium on interrogations.
“We will keep open Guantanamo Bay and place a renewed emphasis on human intelligence. Foreign combatants will be tried in military commissions,” President Trump said.
“This is a bad idea on policy grounds, but it also would be the Trump Administration stepping into legal thicket.”
The ACLU’s Chris Anders said the administration would rely on a 2001 congressional authorization that allowed the U.S. military to go after Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
“Today, we of course ar more than 15 years removed from that, from that authorization and some of the people that we’re talking about as possible captures are people who are far removed from that conflict,” Anders said.
Majid Khan, who was born in Pakistan and lived in Baltimore as a legal permanent resident, was transferred to Gitmo after he was picked up overseas and handed off to the CIA.
In a plea agreement, Khan said he was a courier for Al-Qaeda and is awaiting sentencing next year.
Beyond the legal obstacles, critics emphasize that the military commissions are grossly inefficient — and a decade after the five 9/11 suspects were sent to the Navy base, there is still no trial date.