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article image11 US Republican Senators urge Trump to keep Guantanamo operating

By Ken Hanly     Feb 14, 2017 in World
Washington - Barack Obama pledged to close Guantanamo during his campaign for president but when he left office on January 20th he still had not been able to keep his pledge.
It became clear as Obama's term neared its end that he was not going to be able to keep his promise to close the base or transfer out all the inmates. As a National Review article pointed out: " The president and his team have expressed frustration that it is now impossible for them to fulfill his 2008 campaign pledge to close detainee operations at Gitmo, which he backed with one of the very first executive orders he signed upon taking office."
Fox News reported last November that Trump had said as long ago as last April "we're gonna load it up with some bad dudes believe me. We're gonna load it up." He also said that he would support trying US citizens accused of terrorism at the base. In order to do that he would need to change federal law and he could still face constitutional challenges.
Now eleven Republican senators are encouraging Trump not just to keep Guantanamo open but to send any new captives to the facility. Also they urge that the review board that can clear prisoners for release be suspended. In a letter to Trump released on Monday the group said: “As you consider policies and actions that may affect [Guantanamo], we want to express our support for maintaining and expanding the utilization of the detention facility during your administration by detaining current and future enemy combatants who pose a threat to our national security.” All eleven senators who signed the letter had been strong opponents of Obama's attempts to close the prison.
Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas organized the letter but it was co-signed by 10 other senators: Roby Blunt (Missouri); Tom Cotton (Arkansas); Jame Inhofe (Oklahoma); John Boozman (Arkansas); Tim Scott (South Carolina): Thom Tillis (North Carolina); Cory Gardner (Colorado); Pat Roberts (Kansas); Steve Daines (Montana) and Orin Hatch (Utah). Since Trump was inaugurated, drafts of an executive order have been circulating. The drafts order that Guantanamo be kept open, and calls for ISIS captives to be sent there. However, Trump has yet to sign an order.
Referring to Guantanamo by its military acronym GTMO the senators' letter said: “During your campaign and transition to the presidency, we were pleased to learn you share our perspective that enemy combatants affiliated with ISIS, al Qaeda, the Taliban and other foreign terrorist organization captured during conflicts involving our armed forces should be housed at GTMO.” The letter also demanded that the Period Review Board that decided whether detainees should be transferred should be immediately suspended as well as the transfers of five detainees that the board already cleared for transfer. The letter pointed out that the director of national intelligence's assessment was that 30 percent of detainees released have been confirmed to be or are suspected of being re-engaged as terrorists. They claimed that the board process was "dangerously flawed by subjectivity and broad interpretation". The letter concluded: “As we continue to engage in conflicts and combat operations around the world, the critical mission the GTMO serves in detaining terrorists who threaten the lives of not only our servicemen, but all American, cannot be stressed enough.”
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