Plan to designate migrants as enemy combatants provoked astonishment and mortification, says author of A Warning
Donald Trump proposed designating all migrants entering the US without permission as enemy combatants and shipping them to Guantnamo Bay to be detained alongside hardened terrorism suspects, according to a new book written by an anonymous author described as a senior official in the Trump administration.
Among the many incendiary details contained in A Warning, a behind-the-scenes account of the White House under Trump, is the revelation that the president floated the idea of changing the legal designation of migrants as a way of forcibly keeping them out of the country. The change would effectively have condemned all undocumented migrants to the same legal treatment as the al-Qaida architects of 9/11.
The author of A Warning shot to public notice in September 2018, when he or she wrote an article in the New York Times. The column presented its author as part of an internal resistance to Trump, trying to frustrate his most extreme ambitions.
In the new book, which the Guardian obtained in advance of publication next week, Anonymous puts flesh on the bones of some such harebrained schemes. The migrant plan, the author writes, stemmed from Trumps unfounded conviction that unlawful migration across the border with Mexico was the biggest crisis in American history.
When his proposed solution of labelling all undocumented migrants enemy combatants began to circulate around the administration, it provoked astonishment and mortification, the author writes.
Are you fucking kidding me? This is completely batshit, an unnamed state department official is quoted as saying.
Trump signed an executive order to keep Guantnamo Bay open as a prison camp in January 2018, reversing Barack Obamas policy of closing it. Earlier this year it was reported that at the height of the detention crunch over unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border, Department of Homeland Security officials explored the possibility of sending some migrant children to Guantnamo.
But A Warning suggests that Trump wanted to go much further, applying the enemy combatant label to all undocumented migrants as deterrence.
The author says the wild idea was quickly and quietly opposed: Before the president could make a public case for the concept, officials quashed it.
Enemy combatants was the legal definition the Bush administration seized upon as a way of skirting international law to justify indefinitely detaining al-Qaida and Taliban suspects picked up in the so-called war on terror after 9/11. Its use to bypass federal courts and hold terror suspects in the extrajudicial military setting of the US naval base at Guantnamo Bay, Cuba, was condemned around the world.
Using the same designation for undocumented migrants would have taken the concept to another level entirely. As Anonymous points out, migrants are neither enemies nor combatants, as they are not engaged in hostilities against the US.
The author calls the idea morally offensive and truly insane, on its face, for America to send migrant children and families to a terrorist prison in Cuba.
Speculation, already rife, will continue over the authors identity. He or she is constantly vague about attribution and takes care not to include details which could place them in any given meeting.