Keep Guantanamo Bay Detention Center open

“We’re going to keep, as you know, Gitmo, we’re keeping that open."

Keep Guantanamo Bay Detention Center open

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On the campaign trail, Donald Trump promised to keep the prison for terrorism suspects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, open.

“We’re going to keep, as you know, Gitmo, we’re keeping that open,” Trump said at his Nevada caucus victory speech on Feb. 24, 2016. “We’re going to load it up with bad dudes. We’re going load it up with a lot of bad dudes out there.”

Barack Obama tried to close Guantanamo Bay prison multiple times throughout his tenure, but was unable to do so because of Republican pushback. Keeping Guantanamo open won’t require any further actions, but Trump wants to expand its use while cutting costs.


Trump said he wants to keep the prison to detain radical Islamic terrorists.

In response to the attacks on 9/11, Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force, which gave George W. Bush authority to use any force against those who “planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks.”

Because of this, many detainees captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere were sent to Guantanamo Bay detention camps. Over 700 detainees have been held there since its opening in 2002. At its peak in June 2003, the prison held 684 detainees.

Guantanamo to this day remains open. As of January 16, 2017, there are approximately 45 captives from 13 or fewer different countries being held there.


In 2015, it cost $445 million to operate the prison, according to an analysis by Human Rights First, an advocacy group that opposes the prison.

But Trump thinks he can lower the cost. In a February 2016 speech, Trump told supporters that he could maintain the prison for anywhere between $3 million to $5 million. He has also suggested giving Cuba the reins to the prison and having them reimburse the United States.

Obama’s administration said it could operate the facility in America for $65 million to $85 million less than the $445 million figure.


Given that Guantanamo is open, there’s little Trump would have to do to in order to keep it operating.

Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, said that the more interesting question is whether Trump will expand the scope of Guantanamo by sending more detainees or by reinvigorating the military commissions.

He said no new detainees have been sent there since 2008 and that the military commissions are only prosecuting three cases.

“Whether it will stay that way, or whether President Trump will again make these principal options in U.S. counterterrorism policy, is an enormous (and generally understudied) issue,” Vladeck said.

Trump has spoken about expanding the type of practices at Guantanamo, including waterboarding.

Human activist groups believe the prison is inhumane and that some practices could be considered torture. Those groups also believe the prison is against human rights because detainees are rarely proven guilty before being held there.