Barack Hussein Obama made closing Guantanamo Bay one of the top priorities of his presidency. That’s why he is undoubtedly fuming right now after Trump signed an executive order that will keep the facility open for a long time to come.
Breitbart reported that Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday that formally reverses Obama’s eight-year effort to close Guantanamo Bay. Trump’s new order states that the U.S. maintains the option to detain additional enemy combatants at the detention center in Cuba, when necessary. It also requires the defense secretary to recommend criteria for determining the fate of individuals who are captured by the U.S. during an armed conflict, with one option being to send the to the detention center.
“The executive order preserves a vital tool to protect the United States and its citizens from continuing significant threats,” the White House said. “The detention of enemies captured in an armed conflict is a lawful and necessary tool of warfighting that must continue to be available to the United States.”
Lee Wolosky, who was Obama’s special envoy at the State Department for closing Guantanamo, said that while this does not practically change much, the symbolic message is clear.
“I don’t think signing a new executive order changes very much,” Wolosky said. “But as a symbolic matter, it changes a great deal because the two presidents before him were trying to close Guantanamo because they recognized that it was a detriment to our national security. Symbolically, it reaffirms his interest in perpetrating a symbol that has greatly damaged the United States.”
Trump had been saying since his campaign that he wanted to keep Guantanamo open and “load it up with some bad dudes.” Trump referred to Guantanamo Bay during his State of the Union speech, which he gave minutes after signing the order.
“In the past, we have foolishly released hundreds and hundreds of dangerous terrorists only to meet them again on the battlefield, including the ISIS leader, al-Baghdadi, who we captured, who we had, who we released,” he said, referring to Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was released in 2004.
“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 Guantanamo Bay,” Trump added to applause.
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