OTG’s Executive Director Condemns Reported Trump Decision to Keep Guantanamo Prison Open

Guantanamo military commissions have failed to secure terrorism convictions at the same rate as America’s more open and transparent federal courts

WASHINGTON – Open The Government Executive Director, Lisa Rosenberg, condemned the Trump Administration’s shortsighted decision to sign an Executive Order reversing Barack Obama’s policy to close the Guantanamo facility “as soon as practicable.” Politico reports “Trump is expected to announce plans to sign the order during his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, or in the days before or after the address.”

“This sad symbol of American secrecy mocks American values and sends the wrong message to the world,” said Open The Government Executive Director Lisa Rosenberg. “While justice is supposed to be blind, the system that administers justice works best when it’s open and transparent.”

According to Politico, Trump’s EO would also repeal language from Obama’s 2009 order which said any detainees should be “returned to their home country, released, transferred to a third country, or transferred to another United States detention facility” at the time of Guantanamo’s planned closure. There are 41 detainees remaining in Guantanamo today, though that could change, as Trump said in February 2016 that he wanted to “load it up with bad dudes.”

Politico reports that the Trump Administration sent a U.S. diplomatic cable that says, “…it affirms Guantanamo Bay will continue to remain open and serve as one of several options the United States maintains for the detention of terrorists.” Time and again, the Guantanamo military commissions have failed to secure terrorism convictions, while America’s more open and transparent federal courts have succeeded.

As OTG coalition partner Human Rights First notes: “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.”

Open The Government is an inclusive, nonpartisan coalition that works to strengthen our democracy and empower the public by advancing policies that create a more open, accountable, and responsive government.