Biden Launches Review Aimed At Closing Guantanamo Bay Prison
President Biden has launched a formal review that aims to close the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay.
The prison, located at the Guantanamo Naval Station in Cuba, was set up following the 9/11 attacks to house foreign suspects.
Harsh interrogation measures used by authorities at the prison are said to have amounted to torture, and as a result the prison has become associated with the US ‘war on terror’.
Former president Barack Obama made moves to close the prison during his time in Office, but his efforts were hindered by Republican opposition. Now, Joe Biden looks to be following in his former boss’ footsteps as a White House official announced the formal review today, February 12.
The review will look at the future of the prison, with immediate impact potentially reinstating Obama’s closure policy in some form.
Two people familiar with the matter told Reuters that aids involved in internal discussions are considering an executive action to be signed by Biden in the coming weeks or months.
National Security Council (NSC) spokesperson Emily Horne commented:
We are undertaking an NSC process to assess the current state of play that the Biden administration has inherited from the previous administration, in line with our broader goal of closing Guantanamo.
The NSC will work closely with the Departments of Defense, State, and Justice to make progress toward closing the GTMO facility, and also in close consultation with Congress.
Obama’s Guantanamo closure policy was reversed by Donald Trump when he took office in 2017, though he vowed not to load it up with ‘bad dudes’.
The facility is now home to 40 prisoners, most of whom have been held for nearly two decades without being charged or tried. Among the prisoners are suspects of the 9/11 attacks.
Horne stressed that the process of assessing the prison is still in its early stages, explaining that ‘a number of key policy roles still need to be filled within the interagency, including confirming sub-Cabinet policy roles at the Defense, State, and Justice Departments’.
The spokesperson added: ‘There will be a robust interagency process to move forward on this but we need to have the right people seated to do this important work.’
Law currently prevents the federal government from transferring any inmates from the prison to facilities within mainland US. Though the Democratic party now controls Congress, the majorities are slim enough that Biden’s efforts to close the prison will likely still be met with political, legal and diplomatic obstacles.
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