President Donald Trump has prepared a draft executive order to lift the ban on CIA "black site" prisons -- overseas facilities where authorities previously held and tortured suspected terrorists.
The proposed order is part of Trump's plan to aggressively combat terrorism, according to The Independent. The three-page draft order, titled "Detention and Interrogation of Enemy Combatants," asks national security officials whether they would recommend that the U.S. "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."
Black site prisons were used during former President George W. Bush's administration. In 2007, Bush signed an executive order allowing CIA interrogators to use tactics outside the Army Field Manual, including torture. Former President Barack Obama revoked many of Bush's executive orders and banned the use of black site prisons in 2009, a decision that was lauded by human rights organizations.
If Trump signed the order, it would reinstate Bush's 2007 legislation. It would also prevent the International Committee of the Red Cross from accessing wartime detainees and would continue operation of Guantanamo Bay's detention camp. According to the New York Times, Trump has been a fierce advocate for torture of suspected terrorists, saying during his campaign that he would bring back waterboarding and a "hell of a lot worse."
Trump said that he believes "torture works," and that even if it didn't, the detainees "deserve it anyway."
The director of Human Rights First, Elisa Massimino, denounced the draft, saying that it was "flirting with a return to the ‘enhanced interrogation program’ and the environment that gave rise to it."
Some members of Congress have also expressed their opposition to the proposed order, according to The Washington Post. Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain said Trump "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."
The draft order is accompanied by a one-page document criticizing the Obama administration's handling of suspected terrorists, saying that the former president "refrained from exercising certain authorities" that were crucial to defending America from "radical Islamism."