During tonight’s State of the Union address, President Donald Trump made clear yet another issue where his administration will be the opposite of his predecessor’s: the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
President Barack Obama famously promised to close the facility early during his first term. He did not accomplish actually closing Gitmo, but did authorize the release of the majority of those held there. A number of these people were far from harmless, and over the years, reports would come in about these released terrorists returning to the battlefield.
Trump introduced the topic by vowing to treat terrorists not like “merely criminals,” but “like the terrorists they are”:
Terrorists who do things like place bombs in civilian hospitals are evil. When possible, we annihilate them. 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 then directly attacked Obama’s previous release of Gitmo detainees:
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.
And then, Trump stated that he had just signed an order to keep Gitmo open:
So today, I am keeping another promise. I just signed, prior to walking in, an order directing Secretary Mattis… to reexamine our military detention policy, and to keep open the detention facilities in Guantánamo Bay.
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