US quietly stepping up efforts to shut down Guantanamo – WSJ

A senior diplomat has been appointed to oversee transfers of detainees from the prison facility, the outlet reports

The Biden administration has quietly stepped up efforts to close the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

Despite being one of Joe Biden’s campaign promises, the White House took a low-profile approach to the issue during his first year in office in order to avoid political controversy, sources told the outlet.

But now the US administration is moving closer to shutting down the prison, which was set up in 2002 to host foreign terrorists captured abroad, according to the people familiar with the matter.

For the first time, a senior diplomat has been appointed to oversee the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay, the WSJ says. The job of the special representative reportedly went to Tina Kaidanow, a former ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism.

The WSJ said it tried reaching Kaidanow for comment, but the State Department spokesman replied that she was unavailable.

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The Biden administration has also been signaling that it wouldn’t interfere with plea negotiations that could resolve the lasting prosecution of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other co-defendants, the Wall Street Journal said.

Mohammed is among the 36 detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay. The infamous facility has hosted around 800 people, often held without charge or trial, over the past two decades. It last received a new inmate back in 2008.

The promise to close Guantanamo Bay was first made by Barack Obama, under whom Biden was vice president.

Back in December, it was reported that the US Department of Defense was moving ahead with a $4 million project to build a new courtroom at the facility.

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