The Biden administration is taking steps to close US’ Guantanamo Bay prison, the Wall Street Journal said in a report. Biden during his campaign promised to shut down the 20-year-old facility located in a naval base in Cuba.
The report said that the Biden administration is appointing a senior diplomat to oversee detainee transfers.
The administration may not interfere with plea negotiations that could resolve the long-stalled prosecution of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four co-defendants, the WSJ said in the report.
There are currently 36 prisoners in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
Five of them among the 36 are accused of conspiracy, murder in violation of the law of war, hijacking or hazarding a vessel or aircraft, and terrorism in 9/11 case.
Terrorist Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri is also among those held and faces numerous charges. He was involved in bombing of the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors in 2000.
However, the decision to close down the detention facility could be seen by some within as well as outside the Biden administration as a sign of weakness as it would mean that Biden’s office is going soft on terrorism.
When the Obama administration said it would close down the facility, it received a huge political backlash from opponents as well as from the Democrats. The Congress even passed a law blocking the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the US.
The Guantanamo Bay detention facility has held more than 800 prisoners but hundreds were returned home or resettled in third countries by the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. The last detainee arrived at the prison in 2008. It was built in 2002 in Cuba to house alleged foreign terrorists captured overseas.
Meanwhile the Biden administration is going ahead with the Trump-era plan of building a courthouse worth $4 million, even though there are no additional trials expected.
The Penn research center on Monday released a 197-page report which provides a road map to closing the facility and also proposes alternate approaches to protect national security.
It also showed that the detention center costs $540 million a year to operate which includes $100 million for military commissions. That brings the costs to $15 million a detainee, compared with about $78,000 a year for an inmate in the US Penitentiary at Florence, Colorado, where terrorists and other high-security convicts have been held.