National Security

White House launches review of Guantanamo Bay prison

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The Biden administration is launching a review of the prison at Guantanamo Bay Military Base in Cuba with the goal of shuttering the facility, the White House said Friday.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Friday that the “goal and intention” of the new administration is to close the military prison by the time that President Biden leaves office. She said the National Security Council (NSC) is undertaking a review of the prison known as Gitmo.

“We are undertaking an NSC process … to assess the current state of play that the Biden administration, we have inherited from the previous administration,” Psaki said, noting that a number of officials who will be part of such a process still need to be confirmed by the Senate.

Gitmo was opened during the George W. Bush administration following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks to hold foreign terror suspects. The prison housed around 800 prisoners at its peak, but the population was whittled down substantially under former President Obama. Currently, there are 40 prisoners at Gitmo.

Obama sought to close the prison but was unable to do so during his term. Republicans opposed the effort, and Congress blocked Obama from closing the prison in defense legislation.

Former President Trump reversed those plans, signing a directive in 2018 keeping the military prison open. He expressed unease at the cost of detaining prisoners at Gitmo the following year, however, after The New York Times reported it cost more than $540 million to keep the detention facility running. 

Tags Cuba Donald Trump Gitmo Guantánamo Bay Jen Psaki Joe Biden
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