President Donald Trump Signed on Tuesday an executive order to keep the Guantanamo Bay detention facility open and ready for new prisoners, in what has been described as a major reversal of his predecessor’s policy.
During his State of the Union speech delivered on Tuesday night, the president said he had directed Secretary of Defense James Mattis to “re-examine our military detention policy and to keep open the detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay,” CNN reports.
President Trump also raised the possibility of sending ISIS prisoners to Guantanamo Bay when that proves necessary “to protect the nation.”
“I am asking Congress to ensure that in the fight against ISIS and al Qaeda we continue to have all necessary power to detain terrorists wherever we chase them down, wherever we find them. And in many cases for them it will now be Guantánamo Bay,” he said.
The president’s order described the conditions at the detention facility as “legal, safe, humane, and conducted consistent with United States and international law.”
At the moment, there are 41 remaining prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and Trump said the chances of them re-offending was high considering that they are “the most difficult and dangerous cases from among those historically detained at the facility.”
“In the past, we have foolishly released hundreds of dangerous terrorists, only to meet them again on the battlefield — including the ISIS leader, al-Baghdadi,” Trump said Tuesday.
According to two staffers, the State Department informed congressional staffers on Capitol Hill of the announcement Tuesday night.
Barack Obama long sought to close the prison facility but was prevented by congressional legislation from moving prisoners to U.S. soil. Shortly after his inauguration in 2009, Obama signed an executive order to close the detention facilities within a year.