The Biden administration has launched a formal review of the future of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay with the goal of closing the controversial facility in Cuba, a White House official said on Friday.
Aides involved in internal discussions are considering an executive action to be signed by President Joe Biden in coming weeks or months, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters, signaling a new effort to remove what human rights advocates have called a stain on America's global image.
"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," National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne told Reuters.
"The NSC will work closely with the Departments of Defense, State, and Justice to make progress toward closing the GTMO facility, and also in close consultation with Congress," she added.
Such an initiative, however, is unlikely to bring down the curtain anytime soon on the high-security facility located at the Guantanamo Naval Station. Set up to house foreign suspects following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, it came to symbolize the excesses of the US "war on terror."
The immediate impact, however, could be to reinstate, in some form, the Guantanamo closure policy of Biden's old boss, former President Barack Obama, which was reversed by Donald Trump as soon as he took office in 2017.
Trump kept the offshore prison open during his four years in the White House - though he never loaded it up with "bad dudes," as he once vowed. Now, 40 prisoners remain, most held for nearly two decades without being charged or tried.