MIAMI -- White House spokesman Sean Spicer dodged a question on whether the Trump administration would send U.S. citizens to Guantanamo but says the president "believes that Guantanamo Bay does serve a very, very healthy purpose in our national security."
As a general rule, advocates of housing suspected terrorists at the detention center in Cuba say it enhances national security to keep the captives off U.S. soil. Currently the Pentagon has 41 war-on-terror prisoners at the center, six awaiting death penalty trials, and, commanders say, room for about another 200 more.
Spicer twice declined to say whether U.S. citizens could be held there. "As the president has said very clearly before, we don't telegraph what we're going to do," he said.
In August, then presidential candidate Donald Trump told the Miami Herald it "would be fine" if Americans were tried by military commissions at Guantanamo, something not currently permitted by U.S. law. "I know that they want to try them in our regular court systems," Trump said, "and I don't like that at all."
Tuesday, Spicer said at a White House briefing: "I'm not going to get into what we may or may not do in the future."
The White House has yet to issue an executive order or any kind of directive on detention policy, including rescinding former President Barack Obama's Jan. 22, 2009, instruction to his administration to close the detention center within a year. Congress thwarted that ambition by prohibiting the transfer of any captive to the United States for any reason, including trial.