Biden administration launches review into shutting down Guantanamo Bay prison

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Updated: March 1, 2021

The Biden administration has launched a formal review of the future of the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, the White House confirmed on Friday.

The controversial prison was established by the George W. Bush’s administration in 2002 during the war on terror following the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centers in Manhattan, New York, and elsewhere. Critics have long said grave human rights violations have been taking place there.

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“That certainly is our goal and our intention,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki during her Friday briefing when asked If Guantanamo Bay will be closed by the time President Biden leaves office.

“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,” National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said Friday via Reuters.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki participates in a briefing Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Chandler West)
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki participates in a briefing Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Chandler West)

“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,” Horne added.

Mr. Biden’s public position on GTMO dates back to his days as Vice President, when President Barack Obama made a strong push for the facility’s closure but ultimately failed in delivering on his promise to shut it down.

President Barack Obama speaks to a crowd of supporters during acampaign rally at the Cheyenne Sports Complex in North Las Vegas
President Barack Obama speaks to a crowd of supporters during acampaign rally at the Cheyenne Sports Complex in North Las Vegas in 2012.

As one of his top priorities, Obama signed an executive order calling for Guantanamo Bay to be shut down the day after taking office in 2009. However, he was never able to see to the policy’s execution and the detention camp remained open.

In January of 2018, President Trump signed an executive order to keep the camp open indefinitely.

President and Mrs. Bush dancing. Photo By: David Valdez
President and Mrs. Bush dancing in 2005. Photo By: David Valdez

Psaki spoke on the development, saying, “We are still just three and a half weeks in. So, we are undertaking an NSC process- which is how it should work. To work with the interagency to assess the current state of play that the Biden administration has inherited from the previous administration.”

In response to reports that the Biden administration has launched a formal review of the future of the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, Daphne Eviatar, Director of the Security with Human Rights Program at Amnesty International USA, urged the president to shut down the detention center.

“We are pleased to hear that the Biden administration wants to review the U.S. policy of almost 20 years of indefinite detention without charge of Muslim men at an offshore prison,” Eviatar wrote in a brief statement on Friday. “For almost two decades, the United States has denied justice to the hundreds  of men the government has kept detained at Guantánamo Bay indefinitely, without charge or trial. Forty men remain there today. It is long past time to close it down.”

According to Eviatar, “President Biden must commit to finishing what former President Obama failed to do: putting an end to this human rights atrocity by immediately transferring detainees not charged with crimes to countries where their human rights will be respected, providing fair trials to anyone charged, without resort to the death penalty, and finally shuttering this discriminatory and unlawful detention facility once and for all.” 

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Noah Pitcher
Noah Pitcherhttp://todaynewsafrica.com
Noah Pitcher is a U.S. and global politics writer at Today News Africa who specializes in covering the White House. A full-time undergraduate student at California Polytechnic State University of San Luis Obispo, Noah is studying Political Science with a concentration in global politics. Noah’s background and experience include working on congressional campaigns, with elected members of the American government, and as part of numerous research teams. 

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