05:04 GMT +324 October 2019
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    The guard tower of Camp Six detention facility of the Joint Detention Group at the US Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (File)

    Trump May Expand Gitmo Capacity to Bush-Era Levels on Dubious Legal Grounds

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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US President Donald Trump is likely to expand the capacity of the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba detention center operations to pack the facility with more alleged terror suspects under legal fictions that violate international human rights laws, analysts told Sputnik.

    In January, Trump during his first State of the Union address announced that he signed an order to keep the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba open indefinitely. Trump’s move reversed his predecessor’s guidelines, although President Barack Obama failed to close the prison during his eight years in office despite promising voters he would.

    On Monday, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis fired the convening authority overseeing trials of detainees at Guantanamo, reportedly due to disagreements over controversial decisions including the rejection of charges for three former CIA captives.

    UNLAWFUL COMBATANTS

    When Trump announced the new policy to keep Guantanamo opened during his State of the Union address he tried to make it clear what those imprisoned should be called.

    "But we must be clear: Terrorists are not merely criminals," Trump told a joint session of Congress on January 30. "They are unlawful enemy combatants. And when captured overseas, they should be treated like the terrorists they are."

    University of Illinois Professor of International Law Francis Boyle told Sputnik that the terminology used by Trump during his State of the Union address was chosen deliberately, leaving suspects vulnerable to being indefinitely detained without due process.

    "By determining that they are ‘unlawful combatants’ — a completely bogus category under international humanitarian law — Trump has tried to strip them of all of their international legal rights and render them non-persons," he said.

    Trump, Boyle added, was also likely to permit the renewed use of torture, or so-called "enhanced interrogation" techniques at Guantanamo in the coming years.

    Captured terror suspects "will be shipped to Gitmo where they will be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and subjected to the Pentagon’s Kangaroo Courts that even the US Supreme Court has ruled violate the Geneva Conventions, which is a war crime," Boyle said.

    "Trump wants to terrorize and intimidate all armed and unarmed opposition to further US imperial aggression and Occupations all over the world," Boyle said.

    EXPANDING OPERATIONS

    After Trump’s decision the White House in a press release said the detention operations at Guantanamo were safe, legal and humane, which enraged man human rights groups and activists.

    "In all likelihood, it [Guantanamo] will not only resume its torture practices but also enhance and expand them as creatively as their cynical operators can imagine," human rights activist and Pennsylvania State University Middle East Studies Faculty Associate, Jennifer Loewenstein, told Sputnik.

    Following Trump’s announcement, the number of prisoners held indefinitely without due process at Guantanamo was likely to increase, Loewenstein predicted.

    "I fully expect Guantanamo Bay to continue to operate under the Trump administration but at a greater capacity such as during the Bush administration," she concluded.

    Trump’s decision to keep Guantanamo open while egregious was also consistent with long-standing US security policies.

    "To claim this were somehow a deviation from standard US military practices would be disingenuous. While there have been variations in the levels of violence used against alleged enemies of the state, torture and imprisonment have always been key elements of our system of military ‘justice,’" she said.

    The worst of those practices had generally been kept out of the public eye, Loewenstein acknowledged.

    However, those procedures "continue to take place and are, indeed, sanctioned by military law — such as the use of psychological torture and, more controversially, techniques such as waterboarding," she said.

    Successive US governments were guilty of hypocrisy by permitting such practices while lecturing others, Loewenstein pointed out.

    "What is particularly odious is the sanctimonious finger-pointing at other nations for their human rights abuses before acknowledging and confronting our own," she said.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    interrogation, Guantanamo Bay, Donald Trump, United States
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