January 26, 2018, New York – In response to the leak of a State Department cable saying that Trump plans to sign an executive order to keep Guantánamo Bay prison open, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement:
News of Trump’s forthcoming executive order on Guantánamo is confirmation of what his words and actions have already shown: that he intends to keep the prison open and keep everyone in it imprisoned. As some men enter their 17th year of detention without charge, and five continue to languish while being cleared for release, the only thing Trump has to say or do about it is issue an order further entrenching the prison and effectively sanctioning detainees’ continued punishment. His defiance in the face of national and international calls for Guantánamo's closure is, of course, rooted in his executive hubris, his anti-Muslim animus, and his disregard for law, under which these detentions are without question unprecedented.
On the 16th anniversary of the prison’s opening, this past January 11, we filed the first major legal challenge to Trump’s Guantánamo policy, on behalf of 11 of the remaining men detained there, many of whom have been held for more than 15 years without charge. This executive order is further proof, if we needed it, that these detentions, like the prison itself, are perpetual and potentially permanent, and that the status quo will persist without the intervention of the courts.
It is fitting of Trump as an outlier that as he prepares to issue an order keeping open one of the most glaring symbols of U.S. torture, others in Europe are beginning to move forward with appropriate accountability. Recently, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) made a formal request to investigate crimes in Afghanistan, including crimes of torture by the CIA and U.S. military after 9/11, some of the victims of which remain detained in Guantánamo today. The juxtaposition of such steps with a man who believes the United States should bring back waterboarding and worse could not be more stark.
CCR has led the legal battle over Guantánamo for 16 years – representing clients in two Supreme Court cases and organizing and coordinating hundreds of pro bono lawyers across the country, ensuring that all the men detained at Guantánamo have had the option of legal representation. CCR is responsible for many Guantánamo cases in many venues, representing men in their habeas cases in federal court and before the military commissions and Periodic Review Boards, the families of men who died at Guantánamo, and men who have been released and are seeking accountability in international courts.