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New Life for Guantanamo?

Four Guantanamo Bay detainees will be transferred to Saudi Arabia by the end of today as part of a continued effort by the Obama administration to reduce the population. Twenty inmates out of the remaining 59 are slated to be moved before the swearing in of President-elect Donald Trump, who has promised to not just keep Guantanamo up and running, but to increase the number of prisoners held there.

Guantanamo opened in its current form after the 9/11 attacks to house “enemy combatants.” Most Americans oppose closing the center, although the margin is slowlynarrowing.

Proponents of Guantanamo—including Trump and most of his Republican cohorts—argue thatholding prisoners without formal charges or trials was a war-time necessity to confine suspected terrorists. In the intervening years, opposition continued to mount against the detention camp for its failure to maintain human rights under international law.

So far, transfers to Saudi Arabia have been all been inmates associated with al-Qaeda. There’s no tangible guarantee that transferred inmates will endure under better conditions in their new locations, but the question might become a moot point under the Trump administration anyway.

Trump’s campaign promise to increase the population at Guantanamo hasn’t been explicitly restated since the election, making it hard to predict what the future holds.