Trump Officials Trying to Finalize Legal Language to Expand Gitmo’s Use

Officials Still Trying to Settle on Executive Order Language

While President Trump has made clear he intends to not only keep Guantanamo Bay open, but refill it with a new round of detainees, the administration has been struggling with the legal obstacles surrounding a new influx of captives.

The goal is to come up with an executive order that not only reverses President Obama’s 2009 pledge to eventually close the facility,but to provide some sort of basis for putting newly captured people into the facility, after years of trying to release most of those already there.

The initial executive order, which President Trump nearly signed back in late July, would’ve allowed ISIS and al-Qaeda members to be held there, despite warnings from legal officials about the consequences this would have for the broader ISIS war.

Two alternative versions now exist, one adding language that would grant Defense Secretary James Mattis unilateral power to decide who to put at Gitmo, and a third version that would provide guidelines to how Mattis should decide on those people, and would promise a parole board that decides whether to keep the detainees.

Either providing guidelines or specifically restricting Gitmo to just ISIS and al-Qaeda members is a shift from previous talk out of the Trump White House, which suggested a deliberately vague policy on who exactly might end up there.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.