Will Guantánamo Ever Close? Fourteen Years After Prison’s Opening, Indefinite Detention Persists
It’s been 14 years since the prison at the US military base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, opened, and little has changed. The first 20 detainees were sent to Guantánamo on January 11, 2002. Since then, Guantánamo has held 779 detainees. Currently, there are 91 detainees remaining in Guantánamo and 34 cleared for release. While the Obama administration has increased the pace of releasing Guantánamo detainees, the policy of indefinite detention remains.
Pentagon officials have played a major role in thwarting detainee releases from Guantánamo. These releases are determined by Periodic Review Boards. Established by President Obama’s Executive Order 13567 on March 7, 2011, the boards are composed of representatives from different intelligence agencies that decide whether an individual detainee is safe to release or transfer, or if they should continue to be detained. After a detainee is cleared for release, the president’s administration searches for countries willing to take in released Guantánamo detainees or rehabilitate them. This is the point where the Pentagon has stepped in to stall releases.