White House considering ‘all available avenues’ to close Guantanamo Bay
The White House is considering “all available avenues” to transfer prisoners and close the Guantanamo Bay military base in Cuba, press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday.
“Our goal is to close Guantanamo Bay,” Psaki said at a briefing. “I don’t have a timeline for you. As you know, there’s a process, there are different layers of the process, but that remains our goal and we are considering all available avenues to responsibly transfer detainees and of course close Guantanamo Bay.”
Her comments came the same day that the Biden administration announced its first transfer of a detainee from the military prison, whittling the number of remaining prisoners down to 39.
U.S. officials announced Monday that Abdul Latif Nasir, 56, would be repatriated to Morocco. The Periodic Review Board decided in 2016 that Nasir’s detention was no longer necessary to protect U.S. national security. Psaki noted Monday that Nasir started moving through the process under the Obama administration but that his case was paused under former President Trump, who was determined to keep the prison open.
Of the 39 remaining detainees, 10 are eligible for transfer, 17 are eligible for a Periodic Review Board, 10 are involved in the military commissions process, and two have been convicted, Psaki noted.
A senior official told reporters earlier Monday that the Biden administration is “very much focused on looking to pursue transfer” for those who are eligible for transfer, without providing further specifics on the steps officials are taking or the timeline.
The Biden administration launched a review of Gitmo in February shortly after President Biden took office with the intention of closing the prison by the time Biden leaves office.
The prison was opened during the administration of President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and used to hold foreign terror suspects. The prison held about 800 prisoners at the peak of the prison population. Former President Obama sought to close the prison during his two terms, but faced opposition from Republicans and was blocked from doing so by Congress.
Psaki noted on Monday that Biden cannot order the prison closed on his own and that it requires notifications and consultations with Congress. She twice declined to lay out a specific timeline.
“I don’t have a new deadline to outline for you here today,” Psaki said.