Top Trump aide calls Guantanamo Bay 'incredibly important intelligence asset'

Sebastian Gorka suggests president will honor pledge to keep Gitmo open.

ByABC News
February 22, 2017, 9:26 AM

— -- President Trump intends to keep his campaign promise regarding the continued operation of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a top White House aide suggested today.

“The president has been really explicit ... that Gitmo is a very, very important tool,” Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to the president, said on Fox News this morning. "It's also important to understand that Guantanamo Bay is an incredibly important intelligence asset."

Since taking office last month, the president has yet to address directly the future of Gitmo. The day before Trump's inauguration, President Obama transferred four more people from the facility to United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, leaving 41 detainees.

"We have transferred 196 detainees from Guantanamo with arrangements designed to keep them from engaging in acts that pose a threat to the United States and our allies," the Obama administration wrote in its final report to Congress on the facility. "Of the nearly 800 detainees at one time held at the facility, today only 41 remain.”

The Obama administration and human rights groups spent eight years attempting to close the facility, calling it a stain on America's reputation around the world and even claimed it was used as a recruitment tool for foreign terror groups.

But supporters of the facility's continued operations point to recurring reports of a number of released or transferred detainees who eventually returned to terrorist activity.

Gorka, a former national security editor at Breitbart News, pointed to reports that a recent ISIS suicide bomber in Mosul was identified as a British former Guantanamo Bay detainee who was released in 2003.

"You look at the things that we have managed to achieve based upon the intelligence gleaned from the prisoners there," Gorka said. "So we stand by the president's determination during the campaign that this is something we have to keep."

The White House, however, has not commented on whether Trump will move forward with a suggestion during his campaign that U.S. terror suspects should be tried in military tribunals and held at Guantanamo. Federal law prohibits U.S. citizens from being tried in military tribunals.

ABC News’ Luis Martinez contributed to this report.

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