The Trump regime just leaked a draft order to the New York Times that will reinstate President Bush’s order which violates the human rights protections of Geneva Conventions and authorizes extralegal indefinite detentions. If signed in this fashion, Trump will openly encourage the CIA to open and operate new, black site secret prisons which have been used to extralegally torture prisoners in past Republican regimes. Trump told CNN today that he “feels torture absolutely works.”
Trump’s order will open a Pandora’s Box that actively encourages American law enforcement and military officers to violate human rights, which we are bound to uphold by our participation in the Geneva Conventions. Here’s the worst language from President Bush’s Executive Order that President Trump is planning to restore today (embedded below):
On February 7, 2002, I determined for the United States that members of al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces are unlawful enemy combatants who are not entitled to the protections that the Third Geneva Convention provides to prisoners of war. I hereby reaffirm that determination.
If this doesn’t cause you deep concern, then consider that this new President made a campaign promise to send Americans to the harsh Guantanamo Bay prison for unconstitutional trials.
Trump’s proposed executive order would also reverse President Obama’s order to close the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison, which only has 41 remaining prisoners and remains to this day a black mark on America’s record as a just nation that Congress refused to erase in a shamefully bipartisan fashion. It would also require the military and intelligence agencies to submit reports to Trump within 120 days about their plans or assessments of how to violate the Geneva Convention and resume black site operations and illegal, indefinite detentions.
Trump’s order claims that 30% of Guantanamo detainees who have been released have returned to fight the United States, which is much higher than reported figures and with the significantly reduced population there today, probably a very far fetched number. A declassified intelligence report from 2015 shows that the recidivism rate by detainees released under the Obama Administration was sharply lower than Trump has advertised.
Republicans at the most recent Congressional debate around Guantanamo departed from the facts, wishing to keep suspects indefinitely with no charges or due process. Sadly, many of the recently released detainees were held based on false information in the first place, and GOP legislators have failed to link the causality of anti-American terrorism with the extralegal warrantless seizure program and improvidently created Military Tribunal system that the failed Bush Administration implemented.
Republicans have spent the better part of the last eight years complaining about President Obama’s executive orders, but now the President they elected is using them in a way that’s sure to damage our country’s standing at home and abroad – probably instantly – possibly forever. Donald Trump’s executive overreach has grown from sweeping to massive after just five short days in office. Who should really be surprised about this when Vice President Mike Pence openly admitted that he admires the war criminal Dick Cheney, and that the evil one himself was reportedly advising the Trump transition team.
While the executive order specifically says torture is prohibited, CNN reports that “President Donald Trump said he wants to ‘fight fire with fire’ when it comes to stopping terrorism, suggesting that he could be open to bringing back torture because he “absolutely” believes it works.” It absolutely does not. After fifteen years and trillions of dollars wasted by two administrations, radical extremists are more numerous and powerful than ever. Bringing back these appalling and barbaric procedures will only serve to exacerbate the problem further.
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition