WASHINGTON — The Biden administration plans to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay by the end of the president’s time in office, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.
“That certainly is our goal and our intention,” Psaki told reporters.
The facility in Cuba, used to house terror suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, became a flashpoint in former President George W. Bush’s war on terror. Human rights groups demanded the prison be shut down amid reports that detainees were tortured and held for questionable reasons, without trial.
The facility is holding about 40 individuals, about 5% of the peak population, after the Obama administration sent many detainees to other countries.
An interagency review is expected to result in an executive action to be signed by President Joe Biden in the coming months, according to a report from Reuters, which first reported the effort.
Psaki said that work would take time because the incoming administration needs to evaluate the “current state” of the controversial detention facility.
“In order to see the process through completely and thoroughly, there are a number of key policy roles that need to be filled within the interagency, including sub- Cabinet policy roles at the Defense, State and Justice Departments, because there are players who need to be a part of this policy about the steps forward,” Psaki said.
Former President Barack Obama sought to shutter the prison, but his efforts were stymied by Congress, which repeatedly inserted provisions into defense appropriations bills barring the facility’s closing. Former President Donald Trump said in 2019 he was unhappy with the cost of operating the prison and was exploring options on what to do about it.
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