A new executive order, issued as U.S. President Donald Trump gave his State of the Union address, cancels a 2009 order in which President Barack Obama promised to close the Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba.
The White House made the announcement just before Tuesday’s State of the Union address. And, the president spoke about it in his speech.
“I am keeping another promise. I just signed, prior to walking out, an order directing Secretary Mattis, who is doing a great job, to reexamine our military detention policy and to keep open the detention facilities in Guantánamo Bay,” he said. “I am asking the Congress to ensure that, in the fight against ISIS and al-Qaida, we continue to have all necessary power to detain terrorists — wherever we chase them down, where ever we find them.”
Sixteen years after the first prisoner arrived, 41 detainees remain at Guantanamo. Of the more than 700 prisoners who have been held there since 2002, only a handful have been charged with a crime and even fewer tried.
Trump said during his campaign that he wanted to keep Guantanamo open and “load it up with some bad dudes.”
The order preserves military detention as a counterterrorism tool by keeping the prison open.
President George W. Bush opened Guantanamo after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to hold and interrogate suspected enemy combatants.