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After missing deadline, Pentagon delivers new policy on Guantanamo transfers

Defense Secretary Mattis waits to welcome Polish Defense Minister at the Pentagon on April 27, 2018. (Reuters)

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has submitted an updated policy to the White House regarding who can be sent to Guantanamo Bay for detention.

According to Department of Defense spokesperson Commander Sarah Higgins, the policy gives warfighters guidance on nominating detainees for transfer, if they present “continuing, significant threats” to United States Security.

The last known transfer to the Guantanamo Bay detention center was Muhammed Rahim al Afghani, an Afghan and alleged Al Qaeda captive, on March 14, 2008. The response has been released two days after the deadline for the Secretary’s proposal, set by an executive order signed by US President Donald Trump in January.

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The order seeks to keep the Guantanamo Bay detention camp open indefinitely. Secretary of Defense James Mattis has 90 days to come up with proposals or reviews regarding the detention center’s future.

At a press conference at the Pentagon on Monday, media opened the floor with questions about the future of Guantanamo, which Secretary Mattis seemed unconcerned with.

“Right now I'm not working that issue,” the Secretary said when asked about the status of the Guantanamo order, “I'm not sure why.” Pentagon has provided no further detail on the specifics of the policy provided to the White House.

Trump’s executive order is yet another attempt to keep a campaign promise that’s shown little progress since he’s taken office. (Reuters)

Excutive order

Trump’s executive order is yet another attempt to keep a campaign promise that’s shown little progress since he’s taken office. At a campaign rally in February of 2016, Trump had promised supporters to keep Guantanamo open, highlighting the fact that his predecessor, Barack Obama, had signed a futile executive order to do just the opposite.

“We are keeping it open,” Trump said at the 2016 Nevada rally, “and by the way, we're going to load it up with some bad dudes.” The Bush-era legislation that has allowed the multi-pronged War on Terror to continue as what some call “the Endless War” was passed by Congress on 14 September, 2001.

The very short resolution, cited as the Authorization for Use of Military Force, gives the US an extremely broad authority to use military force against “those responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001 and any associate forces.”The legislation has given the US the authority to attack and capture several so-called “offshoots” of al-Qaeda, and remain in the region long after Osama Bin Laden’s death.

ALSO READ: Alleged 9/11 plotter’s torture takes center stage in Guantanamo hearings

The Trump administration has used this ambiguity to repeatedly promise to “bomb the sh*t” out of ISIS, claiming that they will fill the Guantanamo detention center with new terrorists. The facility currently only houses 41 detainees, including the five accused of planning September 11.

Because the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces allegedly have upwards of 400 foreign and ISIS militants in their custody, there is speculation and support that Islamic State affiliates may end up in Guantanamo. Secretary Mattis and the Pentagon have offered no definitive answer on the likelihood of this transfer.

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Last Update: Thursday, 3 May 2018 KSA 12:21 - GMT 09:21
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