Plan to give COVID vaccine to Guantanamo Bay prisoners halted after backlash

President Joe Biden was just forced to put a part of his COVID-19 plan on hold.

The Pentagon announced Saturday that it has paused the Biden administration’s plan to give the COVID-19 vaccine to the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Fox News reported.


This past week, the New York Times released a report indicating that a prosecutor had revealed that there were plans to get the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay vaccinated as soon as next week.

“The prosecutor, Clayton G. Trivett Jr., wrote to defense lawyers on Thursday ‘that an official in the Pentagon has just signed a memo approving the delivery of the Covid-19 vaccine to the detainee population in Guantánamo,'” the Times report reads.

The New York Post’s report added further detail:

“The order was signed on Jan. 27 by Terry Adirim, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs who was sworn in as a Biden appointee on Inauguration Day, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed.”

The Times report further indicated that the Guantanamo Bay detainees were expected to start receiving the COVID-19 vaccination as early as Monday. The plan was to administer the vaccines on a voluntary basis. There are 40 detainees remaining in the prison, including “9/11 mastermind” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

The backlash

As anyone who has been following the news will know, COVID-19 vaccines are in high demand. And so, it was predictable that Americans would find it absurd that Guantanamo Bay detainees would have the opportunity to get vaccinated before most law-abiding citizens.

Several lawmakers slammed the Biden administration for this plan. “President Biden told us he would have a plan to defeat the virus on day 1,” tweeted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). “He just never told us that it would be to give the vaccine to terrorists before most Americans.”

Tom Von Essen, a 9/11 fire commissioner, joined in the criticism, saying, “You can’t make this up. The ridiculousness of what we get from our government. They will run the vaccine down to those lowlifes at Guantanamo Bay before every resident of the United States of America gets it is the theater of the absurd.”

The takeback

In response to this backlash, the Pentagon has now announced that it is “pausing” the plan to vaccinate Guantanamo Bay detainees.

“No Guantanamo detainees have been vaccinated,” Defense Department Press Secretary John Kirby tweeted. “We’re pausing the plan to move forward, as we review force protection protocols. We remain committed to our obligations to keep our troops safe.”

This, of course, is the right decision, but the better decision would have been not having a plan to vaccinate Guantanamo Bay detainees before Americans in the first place.

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