In his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, President Trump announced a new Executive Order to overturn the US Government’s commitment to close the Guantánamo Bay.
There are currently 41 men who remain detained in Guantánamo. Reprieve assists 8 of them—none of whom have been charged with a crime or offered a fair trial. The new Executive Order is expected to leave the remaining men in limbo indefinitely, with no access to any means of proving their innocence or returning to their families.
Among those still detained in Guantanamo is Reprieve client Towfiq Bihani, who has been held in the illegal prison since early 2003. Towfiq has never been charged with a crime, and has been officially cleared him for release through a rigorous process requiring the unanimous agreement of six US security and defense agencies. Prison authorities prepared him for release three times, going so far as to provide him with his ‘release clothing.’ Despite this, Towfiq remains detained.
Trump regularly talks loudly about making America great, but with the stroke of a pen he has fundamentally undermined the American value of justice enshrined in the first line of the Constitution. Even Guantánamo’s creator, George W. Bush eventually recognized it was counter-productive and nothing more than a “propaganda tool” for enemies of the US. Members of Congress and political leaders should oppose this Order and work together to insist those currently detained indefinitely are charged or released.
A country does not become great by shutting its ears to the views of its close allies. Leaders in Europe and elsewhere have vocally opposed Guantánamo over many years and President Trump should be listening to their principled and strategic concerns. If he hasn’t heard them yet, then American’s partners need to repeat their opposition to this island torture chamber, and loudly, until he understands how damaging this move will be.