Trump to Sign Order Keeping Guantanamo Open
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today condemned President Trump’s reported decision to sign an executive order to keep open the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, a move that threatens the United States’ national security and is out of step with American ideals. In response to the news, the first commanding officer of Guantanamo Bay, Major General Michael Lehnert, issued the following statement:
“There is substantial evidence that Guantanamo does not provide any useful options to deter our adversaries. In fact, its continued existence provides a recruiting tool and a rallying cry for our enemies. Guantanamo, therefore, is contrary to our national interests. For those terrorists we capture, federal courts and prisons have been much more effective in bringing our enemies to justice. We need to close Guantanamo for the security of our nation and our historic legacy.”
Human Rights First notes that federal courts have proven much more effective at obtaining convictions of terrorist suspects than military commissions. Since September 11, 2001, military commission trials have resulted in only eight convictions, three of which were reversed or overturned entirely and one partially. Meanwhile, federal courts have produced more than six hundred terrorism-related convictions in the same period, including 108 in which the defendant was captured abroad.
National security leaders and former government officials—including president George W. Bush, and other officials who helped set up the detention center—have supported closing Guantanamo because they’ve determined that it’s operation is contrary to the national interest. Human Rights First urges President Trump to continue efforts to close the facility.