President Donald Trump has signed an executive order keeping open the controversial U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Trump announced that move during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
The prison on the American military base at Guantanamo Bay has been used for years to detain accused terrorists and enemy combatants.
The facility has been criticized for its grim conditions, and the U.S. policy of trying detainees, if at all, before military tribunals instead of criminal courts. Trump's decision to keep it open was immediately condemned by groups that have lobbied for its closure.
"Terrorists who do things like place bombs in civilian hospitals are evil. When possible, we annihilate them," Trump said during his speech.
"When necessary, we must be able to detain and question them. But we must be clear: Terrorists are not merely criminals. They are unlawful enemy combatants. And when captured overseas, they should be treated like the terrorists they are."
Trump said, "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."
"So today, I am keeping another promise. I just signed an order directing [Defense] Secretary [James] Mattis to re-examine our military detention policy and to keep open the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay," the president said.
"I am also asking the 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."
The advocacy group Physicians for Human Rights blasted Trump's decision.
"The facility is a symbol of U.S. torture and injustice known around the world," said Dr. Homer Venters, director of programs at PHR. "It represents the unlawful, immoral, and harmful regime of indefinite detention and should be shuttered immediately."
"Physicians for Human Rights has long demonstrated how policies of torture, ill-treatment, and indefinite detention have caused lasting physical and psychological harm to detainees and have undermined the rule of law. Most of the men remaining at Guantanamo have been there for more than a decade without charge or trial," Venters said.
"Many have been tortured and abused, and they have all been denied full protection under the Geneva Conventions. To this day, detainees continue to be subjected to ill-treatment in the form of force-feeding and medical neglect and continue to face difficulty receiving proper medical treatment or rehabilitation as torture survivors."
GUANTANAMO EXECUTIVE ORDER:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 30, 2018
- - - - - - -
PROTECTING AMERICA THROUGH LAWFUL DETENTION OF TERRORISTS
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Findings. (a) Consistent with long-standing law of war principles and applicable law, the United States may detain certain persons captured in connection with an armed conflict for the duration of the conflict.
(b) Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and other authorities authorized the United States to detain certain persons who were a part of or substantially supported al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, or associated forces engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners. Today, the United States remains engaged in an armed conflict with al Qa'ida, the Taliban, and associated forces, including with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
(c) The detention operations at the U.S. Naval Station Guantánamo Bay are legal, safe, humane, and conducted consistent with United States and international law.
(d) Those operations are continuing given that a number of the remaining individuals at the detention facility are being prosecuted in military commissions, while others must be detained to protect against continuing, significant threats to the security of the United States, as determined by periodic reviews.
(e) Given that some of the current detainee population represent the most difficult and dangerous cases from among those historically detained at the facility, there is significant reason for concern regarding their reengagement in hostilities should they have the opportunity.
Sec. 2. Status of Detention Facilities at U.S. Naval Station Guantánamo Bay. (a) Section 3 of Executive Order 13492 of January 22, 2009 (Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities), ordering the closure of detention facilities at U.S. Naval Station Guantánamo Bay, is hereby revoked.
(b) Detention operations at U.S. Naval Station Guantánamo Bay shall continue to be conducted consistent with all applicable United States and international law, including the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005.
(c) In addition, the United States may transport additional detainees to U.S. Naval Station Guantánamo Bay when lawful and necessary to protect the Nation.
(d) Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Defense shall, in consultation with the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, and the heads of any other appropriate executive departments and agencies as determined by the Secretary of Defense, recommend policies to the President regarding the disposition of individuals captured in connection with an armed conflict, including policies governing transfer of individuals to U.S. Naval Station Guantánamo Bay.
(e) Unless charged in or subject to a judgment of conviction by a military commission, any detainees transferred to U.S. Naval Station Guantánamo Bay after the date of this order shall be subject to the procedures for periodic review established in Executive Order 13567 of March 7, 2011 (Periodic Review of Individuals Detained at Guantánamo Bay Naval Station Pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force), to determine whether continued law of war detention is necessary to protect against a significant threat to the security of the United States.
Sec. 3. Rules of Construction. (a) Nothing in this order shall prevent the Secretary of Defense from transferring any individual away from the U.S. Naval Station Guantánamo Bay when appropriate, including to effectuate an order affecting the disposition of that individual issued by a court or competent tribunal of the United States having lawful jurisdiction.
(b) Nothing in this order shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful permanent residents of the United States, or any persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.
(c) Nothing in this order shall prevent the Attorney General from, as appropriate, investigating, detaining, and prosecuting a terrorist subject to the criminal laws and jurisdiction of the United States.
Sec. 4. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
DONALD J. TRUMP
THE WHITE HOUSE,
January 30, 2018