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Trump Set to Sign Executive Order That Could Reopen CIA 'Black Sites'

The order would also encourage the Pentagon to keep using the prison at Guantánamo Bay.

by Lauren Messman
Jan 25 2017, 4:57pm

President Donald Trump may sign an executive order Wednesday that could allow the CIA to reopen its "black sites," or secret detention centers, reversing an order President Obama signed to shut them down in 2009, the New York Times reports.

According to a draft of the order obtained by the Times, Trump plans to rescind Obama's executive orders to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay and end CIA prisons, and replace them with an old 2007 order from George W. Bush that allowed interrogators to use tactics that were not defined by the Geneva Convention as war crimes. Trump was gearing up for self-described "big day" on national security on Wednesday, but it's not clear when he plans to sign this order.

Although the draft would not explicitly allow the use of secret prisons or banned torture techniques, it gives the power to top national security advisors to "recommend to the president whether to reinitiate a program of interrogation of high-value alien terrorists to be operated outside the United States and whether such program should include the use of detention facilities operated by the Central Intelligence Agency." It also reportedly would deny the Red Cross access to detainees in American custody.

The draft also calls on the Pentagon to keep using the prison at Guantánamo Bay, which Obama tried unsuccessfully to close, "for the detention and trial of newly captured" detainees, including suspected Islamic State terrorists.

Torture was one of the president's talking points throughout the campaign, who said he'd like to bring back waterboarding because even "if it doesn't work, they deserve it anyway."

Republican senator John McCain, a Vietnam vet and chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released a statement Wednesday addressing the order, saying, "The president can sign whatever executive orders he likes. But the law is the law. We are not bringing back torture in the United States of America." 

We're tracking the laws and executive orders Trump signs in his first year in office. The updated list is here.