Trump supporters
Credit: Gage Skidmore

During his speech on national security yesterday, Donald Trump affirmed that he would keep the prison at Guantanamo Bay open. It came as no surprise – he’s been saying that all along. But somehow in the midst of all of the other incendiary things the Republican nominee has been saying lately, I missed this one:

A President Donald Trump might push for Americans accused of terrorism to be tried in a military tribunal at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the Republican nominee told the Miami Herald on Thursday.

“I would say they could be tried there, that would be fine,” Trump said in a brief interview ahead of his speech to home builders in Miami Beach.

Under current federal law, it’s illegal to try U.S. citizens at military commissions. Changing the law would require an act of Congress.

What this comes down to is that, while he constantly lies about opposing the Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq, Trump has promised to ramp up all of the worst aspects of the former administration’s global war on terror. In addition to keeping Guantanamo Bay open and sending American citizens there to be tried by military tribunals, he has talked about going beyond waterboarding in the use of torture and killing the spouses and children of terrorists.

The good news is that we currently have a President who continues to move in the opposite direction, despite the many barriers Congressional Republicans have erected.

The Pentagon disclosed Monday that it sent 15 detainees from Guantánamo to the United Arab Emirates this weekend, part of an ongoing, dramatic downsizing that could see the prison population dip to fewer than 50 war prisoners in Cuba by summer’s end.

The 12 Yemeni and three Afghan men sent to the Emirates range in age from 36 to 66. Most arrived at Guantánamo when they were in their early 20s a dozen or more years ago. None was ever convicted of a crime although the Bush-era prosecutor briefly swore out charges against two of the Afghans in cases the Obama war crimes prosecutor never pursued…

Now, 20 of Guantánamo’s last 61 detainees await resettlement or repatriation through agreements that satisfy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter — and the so-called State Department “closer” predicted most of those 20 will be gone soon.

President Obama’s goal is to get the number of detainees so small that it becomes increasingly difficult to justify keeping the prison open. We should be close to that number in a couple of months.

Only one presidential candidate agrees with this strategy.

I support President Obama’s plan today to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and finally close the door on this chapter of our history. Over the years, Guantanamo has inspired more terrorists than it has imprisoned. It has not strengthened our national security; it has damaged it. That’s why I backed closing Guantanamo as a Senator, and when I ran for President in 2008, as did both then-Senator Obama and Senator McCain. As President Obama’s Secretary of State, I appointed a special envoy and worked with our friends and partners around the world to repatriate or resettle prisoners, with all appropriate monitoring and security. Closing Guantanamo would be a sign of strength and resolve. Congress should implement President Obama’s plan as quickly and responsibly as possible.

Statement from Hillary Clinton.

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