The Biden administration is launching a review of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay with the aim of closing the facility, something the Obama administration promised to do but never followed through on.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced the review on Friday. When asked if President Biden plans to shut the prison before his presidency ends, Psaki said, “That certainly is our goal and our intention,” but an exact timeline was not given.
National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne discussed the review with Reuters. “We are undertaking an NSC process to assess the current state of play that the Biden administration has inherited from the previous administration, in line with our broader goal of closing Guantanamo,” she said.
Horne said the NSC will be working with the Pentagon, State Department, and the Justice Department to make progress towards closing Gitmo.
There are currently 40 inmates being held in Gitmo. The prison costs over $530 million to operate each year, meaning each prisoner costs about $13 million per year.
In January, a Gitmo inmate appealed to President Biden for his release in an article in the Independent. Ahmed Rabbani was kidnapped in Pakistan in 2002, sold to the CIA, and mistakenly identified as an al-Qaeda member.
Before heading to Gitmo, Rabbani was tortured for 540 days at a CIA black site, according to the 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee Report on CIA torture.
Rabbani has been on a seven-year hunger strike to protest being detained on no charges with no trial. Each day, guards force-feed Rabani by strapping him to a chair and forcing a tube down his nose and throat.