Small Wars Journal

Why Trump Could Bring Back Secret Prisons and Waterboarding

Thu, 01/26/2017 - 10:07pm

Why Trump Could Bring Back Secret Prisons and Waterboarding by Ben Rosen, Christian Science Monitor

In his first month in office in 2009, former President Obama dismantled a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) interrogation program and secret overseas prisons the George W. Bush administration put in place during the so-called Global War on Terror.

Eight years later, a draft executive order, reportedly from the Trump White House, could revive currently prohibited interrogation methods, which include waterboarding, and secret, "black site" prisons.

The three-page draft order, titled “Detention and Interrogation of Enemy Combatants,” calls for a policy review on whether the president should “reinstate a program of interrogation of high-value alien terrorists and whether such a program should include the use of detention facilities operated by” the CIA. The draft order also calls for the reopening of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba to new prisoners, as well revoking the access of the International Committee of the Red Cross to all detainees in American custody.

Trump administration spokesman Sean Spicer and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin, denied on Wednesday the document was sent from the White House. Mr. Spicer said he “has no idea where it came from,” while Mr. Ryan told MSNBC it was written by “somebody who worked on the transition before, who's not in the Trump administration.” But two officials told Reuters that Mr. Trump is expected to sign this executive order in the next few days.

Trump’s signature could pave the way for a shift back to Bush-era interrogation practices, instituted in response to the 9/11 attacks. Supporters say these “dark” techniques, as former Vice President Dick Cheney once described them, produced critical intelligence on Al Qaeda. A Reuters/Ipsos poll taken in March 2016, shortly after terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., and in Europe showed nearly two-thirds of Americans say torture can be justified to extract information from suspected terrorists.

But in the decade or so since they were first put in place, critics say that there have been extensive reports on their legality, a public debate in Washington and among Americans, and international condemnation of these practices as torture…

Read on.