U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order that would expand Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba and allow the United States to transfer fighters from the Islamic State group and other terror groups captured in battle there like it operated during the presidency of George W. Bush, the New York Times reported Wednesday.
Drafts of the directive have been in circulation at the White House for days and the newspaper obtained the latest draft which sees the Trump administration reversing an initial plan to reopen overseas “black sites” prison facilities the CIA previously used for torturing terror suspects.
But the latest draft would see Trump ordering Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to use Guantanamo to detain suspected members of “Al-Qaida, the Taliban, and associated forces, including individuals and networks associated with the Islamic State,” the New York Times reported citing the draft.
The executive order would also reverse another order by former President Barack Obama that called for the closure of the prison. Obama made closing Guantanamo one of his 2008 elections campaign promises, however, he failed to do so during the course of his eight-year-long presidency.
During his presidential bid, Trump repeatedly vowed to keep it open, expand it and “load it up with some bad dudes, believe me, we're gonna load it up," as he said just days after winning the elections in November.
The prison is infamous for its past severe and illegal treatment of prisoners. The U.S. military and other agencies operate under different regulations outside the U.S. territories, thus allowing them to use torture, hold prisoners without trial and other illegal practices otherwise not permitted in the U.S.
During the Obama administration, most detainees were transferred to other countries. Official figures reveal that nearly 800 prisoners have been held at Guantanamo since the prison opened after the Sept.11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Of those, more than 700 have been released or transferred and nine have died, while 41 men are still held there without internationally recognized charges or trials.
Cuba has repeatedly insisted that the U.S. return the occupied territory as part of the normalization of relations between the two countries that kicked off in Dec. 2014, which now faces an uncertain future as Trump and many of his Cabinet maintain hostile attitude towards the Caribbean socialist nation.