The Associated Press released a report on Friday indicating that the administration of President Joe Biden is going to try to shut down the Guantanamo Bay Prison, also known as “Gitmo” or GTMO.
Whether or not the administration will succeed is another story, altogether.
A “robust” review
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday announced that the Biden administration’s “intention” was to close the Guantanamo Bay Prison facility down. Psaki, however, stopped short of saying when this will happen.
Instead, Psaki said that, before the detention facility can be closed, a “robust” review process would be needed that includes “many players from different agencies.” Psaki indicated that this would include officials from the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice, some of whom have yet to be officially sworn in.
Emily Horne, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, provided 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.”
A brief history of GTMO
It was in January of 2002 that the prison located at America’s Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was opened. Its purpose was to house suspected members of terrorist groups, such as al-Qaida and the Taliban.
In 2003, the facility was at its height, housing some 650 suspects. Today, however, there are only 40 individuals being held, which includes five who are suspected to have played a role in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack.
The dropoff began under former President George W. Bush, who released 532 prisons before leaving office. And, it continued under former President Barrack Obama, who released 197 more. Under Former President Donald Trump, one Suaid prisoner was released after reaching a plea deal in his case.
The difference is that Bush and Obama were in favor of shutting the facility down, whereas Trump was not. Bush thought of the facility as “a propaganda tool for our enemies and a distraction for our allies” and Obama thought of it as a bad policy and a waste of money.
It was Obama’s administration that made the first real push to shut the facility down, promising to do it within a year. That effort failed, however, after he came up against opposition for wanting to house such prisoners on U.S. soil.
Like Obama, President Joe Biden, too, has promised to try to close the Guantanamo Bay Prison down. We’ll see if he is more successful. He will face similar opposition to the effort.