Reports indicate that President Joe Biden will be taking steps to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
First constructed in the early 2000s, the Guantanamo Bay prison was meant to house detainees believed to have connections to al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. Its closing marks the end of an era — but it won’t happen overnight.
According to the Associated Press, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the Biden administration’s plans on Friday. She did not, however, provide a timeline for when the prison’s closure would occur.
Instead, Psaki said that a formal, “robust” review process will be needed that includes the participation of “many players from different agencies,” including officials from the Department of Defense and Department of Justice.
Emily Horne, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council (NSC), gave a similar statement to NPR.
“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,” she said.
“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,” Horne added.
“A propaganda tool”
Today, there are only around 40 prisoners being held at “Gitmo,” a substantial drop from its height in 2003, when nearly 680 suspects were being held there, NPR noted.
Upwards of 500 of those prisoners were released under former President George W. Bush, according to the Associated Press. Almost 200 were released under former President Barack Obama, just one was released under the Trump administration.
Bush, for his part, referred to the facility as “a propaganda tool for our enemies and a distraction for our allies,” and said he supported shutting it down, the AP noted — but he left the task to his successor, who failed to get the job done.
As a presidential candidate, Biden promised to once again try to close the doors at Guantanamo Bay, and he appears to be taking steps in that direction.
Only time will tell what sort of opposition he faces from Congress and elsewhere.