In this Wednesday, April 17, 2019 file photo examined by U.S. military officials, the control tower is seen through a razor sharp edge inside the Camp VI detention center at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. The annual Pentagon bill that President Joe Biden enacted this week prohibits him from taking action to close the controversial detention center. (Alex Brandon / AP)
The annual Pentagon bill that President Joe Biden enacted this week prohibits him from taking action to shut down the controversial detention center at the US Naval Base Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Biden, in a statement released after the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 was signed on Monday, criticized language included in the bill, which prevents him from sending inmates under the law of war in certain countries or to transfer them to prisons on American soil. The Guantanamo By facility currently houses 39 detainees – all captured at the start of the US War on Terrorism launched in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
“It is the executive’s long-standing position that these provisions unduly hamper the executive’s ability to determine when and where to prosecute Guantanamo Bay detainees and where to send them upon release,” Biden said in the statement. . “In certain circumstances, these provisions could make it difficult to comply with the final judgment of a court which has ordered the release of a detainee on a request for habeas corpus. “
The extended language of NDAA included in previous versions of the bill that prohibits the White House from spending money to shut down the naval base in southeastern Cuba, which is isolated from the rest of the Cuban mainland, or close the sprawling detention centers that were built there after September 9. 11. Biden – like President Barack Obama before him – said his administration is committed to shutting down these facilities.
Biden transferred detainee Abdul Latif Nasser to his home country of Morocco in July after he had been held without charge since 2002. This was the first transfer of a detainee from Guantanamo Bay since the The Trump administration sent a man in May 2018 to his hometown. Saudi Arabia served a 13-year sentence on terrorism-related charges to which it had pleaded guilty.
This man, Ahmed Muhammed Haza al-Darbi, was the only Guantanamo detainee transferred during Trump’s presidency. Obama transferred more than 170 inmates during his eight-year tenure, but failed to shut down the facility, which he made a central campaign pledge in 2008 and 2012.
Republican lawmakers have long worked to block efforts to shut down the facility, arguing in large part that returning detainees to their home countries or to stand trial in U.S. courts poses national security risks. Language included in the NDAA since at least 2010 has prevented presidents from taking action to shut down facilities.
Of the 39 detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay, only 11 have been formally charged with crimes, and 10 of those held without charge have been authorized by a parole-type committee to be transferred to other countries. U.S. officials said the detention center costs around $ 540 million a year, or more than $ 13.8 million for each remaining inmate.