Sessions: Gitmo is a 'very fine place'

Sessions: Gitmo is a 'very fine place'
© Greg Nash

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsRights groups commend Trump for trying terror suspect in federal court NYT reporter, Dem senator go back-and-forth on Scaramucci coverage Trump brings terrorism suspect to US for trial in break from rhetoric MORE called the Guantanamo Bay detention facility a “very fine place” Thursday, adding that he sees no legal reason not to send potential newly captured terrorism suspects there.

“I’ve been there a number of times as a senator, and it’s just a very fine place for holding these kind of dangerous criminals,” Session said in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. “We’ve spent a lot of money fixing it up. And I’m inclined to the view that it remains a perfectly acceptable place.”

The comments are Sessions’s first on Guantanamo since becoming attorney general, though he expressed support for keeping it open during his confirmation hearing and as a senator.

President Trump has promised to keep the detention center open and fill it up with “bad dudes.”

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Draft executive orders have circulated that would call for captured Islamic State in Iraq and Syria suspects to be sent there, as well as halt the process for clearing detainees for transfer. But Trump has yet to sign such an order.

Asked by Hewitt what his advice to Trump would be if new combatants are captured, Session said he would recommend sending them to Guantanamo.

“There’s plenty of space,” he said. “We are well equipped for it. It’s a perfect place for it. Eventually, this will be decided by the military rather than the Justice Department. But I see no legal problem whatsoever with doing that.”

Legal experts have argued that sending ISIS fighters there could pose legal challenges, since the authorization for the use of military force being used to justify indefinite law of war detention does not name ISIS. But immediately sending newly captured al Qaeda or Taliban suspects to Guantanamo should have no legal issues, experts have said.

Sessions also expressed support for continuing to use military commissions to try the five 9/11 suspects being held at Guantanamo.

Critics have called the commissions dysfunctional and slammed them for not delivering justice more than 15 years after the 9/11 attacks. In 2009, the Obama administration tried to move the trials to federal court in New York but faced a massive backlash and left the cases with the military commissions.

Sessions knocked the Obama administration for allowing “legal complications” with the commissions to “linger and never get decided.” He promised to “get this thing figured out.”

“It is time for us in the months to come to get this thing figured out and start using it in an effective way,” he said. “In general, I don’t think we’re better off bringing these people to federal court in New York and trying them in federal court where they get discovery rights to find out our intelligence, and get court-appointed lawyers and things of that nature.”