It was a campaign promise from Barack Obama. A decade later, Joe Biden puts the subject back on the table: the American president wants to close the emblematic Guantanamo prison before the end of his mandate, said Friday the spokesperson for the White House. His Democratic predecessor could not keep his promise during his two terms, for lack of a compromise with Congress.
Asked at a press conference about a possible closure of the Guantanamo prison during Joe Biden’s tenure, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “This is certainly our goal and our intention. “” We have therefore started a process with the National Security Council (…) to work with the various federal agencies and assess the current situation (…), which we inherited from the previous government “, she added.
Not in Donald Trump’s plans neither before nor during his tenure
During his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump had expressed his desire to keep the Guantanamo prison open and “fill it with bad guys.” The Republican had retained that position once elected. Some detainees, however, had been promised release from Guantanamo under their Democratic predecessor Barack Obama.
The military prison accommodates inmates linked to the “war on terror” including Pakistani Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks. It still houses around 40 inmates, 26 of whom are considered too dangerous to be released. , but legal procedures drag on because of the complexity of their cases.
A recent detention center
The American army, under the presidency of George W. Bush, had quickly built this detention center on a naval base belonging to the United States, at the eastern tip of the island of Cuba. This 117 km2 enclave (including only 49 km2 of dry land) had been ceded by Cuba to the United States in 1903, to thank its powerful neighbor for his help in the war against the Spaniards.
The first twenty inmates arrived there on January 11, 2002, a few weeks after the September 11, 2001 attacks. From that time on, this prison has embodied, throughout the world, the excesses in the fight against terrorism in the United States. The images of prisoners in orange coveralls, behind fences topped with barbed wire, were shocking, as were the force-feeding imposed on those refusing to eat. At the height of its activity, on the embers of the “war on terror” launched by George W. Bush, 780 people were detained at Guantanamo for their alleged links with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Hundreds of detainees have since been released or transferred to their homeland or third countries.