The Department of Justice (DOJ) revealed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are making a previously unannounced trip to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Friday.
The visit by the top two men at the Justice Department will address the continued use of the American naval base to detain enemy combatants in the war on terror. Keeping this “GTMO” prison camp open was a Trump campaign promise that has so far been upheld. According to DOJ spokesman Ian Prior:
Keeping this country safe from terrorists is the highest priority of the Trump administration. Recent attacks in Europe and elsewhere confirm that the threat to our nation is immediate and real, and it remains essential that we use every lawful tool available to prevent as many attacks as possible.
Prior also referenced the DOJ’s role in handling the continuous stream of litigation that has attended the prison camp almost since its inception:
The attorney general, along with the deputy attorney general, will be traveling to our base in Guantanamo Bay today. In addition to the Department of Justice’s role in handling detainee-related litigation, it is important for the Department of Justice to have an up-to-date understanding of current operations. The purpose of the trip is to gain that understanding by meeting with the people on the ground who are leading our government-wide efforts at GTMO.
Sessions himself has advised President Donald Trump to keep the camp, which now holds only a few dozen of the most difficult terrorism-related detainees, open. He has similarly downplayed the legal threats against its continued operation.
This stance marks a significant departure from President Barack Obama’s policy on GTMO. Despite greatly reducing the detainee population and calling repeatedly for the camp to be closed, President Obama, by his own account, was not able to fully close the prison.
By contrast, on the campaign trail, President Donald Trump once promised concerning GTMO, “We’re gonna load it up with some bad dudes, believe me, we’re gonna load it up.”