Guantanamo Bay Is Not Only Not Closing, It May Be Looking For New Occupants

FILE - In this June 27, 2006 file photo, reviewed by a U.S. Department of Defense official, U.S. military guards walk within Camp Delta military-run prison, at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba. President Barack Obama’s declaration that the U.S. is no longer at war in Afghanistan has given rise to new legal challenges from Guantanamo Bay detainees who were captured in that country, but say there’s no longer any legal basis to hold them. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

One of Obama’s campaign promises in the 2008 campaign was to shut down the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Shortly after inauguration he signed an executive order directing the facility be shuttered within a year. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

Now the facility seems to be getting ready to return to business.

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’s struggle to shut down Guantanamo probably had more to do with the rise of ISIS and spread of al-Qaeda than any other act. You only gain intelligence by interrogation. When Obama decided he was going to play tough guy by killing enemy commanders via drone attacks (“I’m really good at killing people”) the real purpose to eliminate the inflow of prisoners while giving the illusion of being a psychopath doing something substantive.

Early in the Trump administration the Washington Post reported on a draft executive order which not only rescinded the Obama executive order closing Guantanamo but restarted the process of black prisons and extraordinary rendition (full disclosure: I’m in favor of both.)

If we are serious about fighting Islamic terrorism, radical or garden variety, we need a place to hold prisoners taken in combat and intelligence operations and we need to be able to interrogate them. Killing them sounds tough but it isn’t how wars are won.