U.S. News: The Future of Guantanamo Bay

Updated August 10, 2023 | Infoplease Staff
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In 2013, Obama vows to close Guantanamo Bay.

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In May 2013, President Obama recommitted to closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He announced he would appoint two special envoys to assist with the task, Clifford Sloan of the State Department and Paul Lewis from the Pentagon. Obama also ordered the Pentagon to choose a location within the United States where the detainees would stand trial.

On November 4, 2013, Obama met with the two envoys. It was the first publicly announced meeting between the two parties. The meeting was seen as a revival to push for the closing of Guantanamo Bay, although no information was given as to how or when the facility would close. After announcing the meeting, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, "The Guantanamo facility continues to drain our resources and harm our standing in the world."

The Guantanamo Bay detention camp was opened in January 2002, to detain, interrogate, and prosecute dangerous prisoners. During the War on Terror, detainees captured were sent to Guantanamo Bay. Most of these detainees were from Afghanistan. The prison has been controversial due to the reported abuse and torture that many current and former prisoners have endured. The Bush administration denied the abuse. In 2005, an Amnesty International report called the facility the "Gulag of our times, entrenching the notion that people can be detained without any recourse to the law." During Obama's first few days as president in January 2009, he ordered that Guantanamo Bay be closed. However, Congress refused to approve the money to close it and prevented the transfer of detainees into the United States or other countries.

The Obama administration has pledged to transfer cleared detainees to other countries. Obama has asked Congress to remove restrictions on those transfers. As of early December 2013, there were 164 prisoners at Guantanamo. A process reviewing the dozens being held there without charges was underway.

by Jennie Wood

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