16:27 GMT24 January 2021
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    Guantánamo Bay, the controversial offshore prison for alleged terrorists, is ready to accommodate new inmates should need arise, US Southern Command head Admiral Kurt Tidd said Thursday.

    "We have 41 detainees who are there right now. We are prepared to receive more should they be directed to us," Tidd said before Congress.

    "As of today we have not been given a warning order that new detainees might be heading in our direction, but our responsibility will be to integrate them in effectively," he added.

    Last month, US President Donald Trump issued an executive order that reversed his predecessor Barack Obama's 2009 directive to shut down the Guantanamo prison — which was not actually achieved during his presidency, though 197 of the 242 prisoners he inherited were released and repatriated before he left office.

    The maximum security prison, located in southeastern Cuba at a military base the Americans refused to cede after Cuba's socialist revolution in 1959, has gained notoriety for the violent treatment of inmates there, including such torturous methods of information extraction as waterboarding, temperature extremes, severe beatings, sleep deprivation, prolonged constraint in uncomfortable positions, forced injections, sexual and cultural humiliation and other atrocities.

    Because of quirks in the lease by which the US retains use of the port and base, the territory is considered sovereign Cuban territory — and thus not US territory where prisoners would be subject to American civil rights like habeas corpus — even though the US exercises jurisdiction and control. Thus, inmates can be held seemingly indefinitely without the prospect of trial. Of the 41 remaining inmates, 23 are being held for indefinite detention without charge or trial, the Guardian reports.

    While Guantánamo has not received any new inmates since 2008, Trump has vowed to load the facility with "bad dudes" and said it would be "fine" if US terror suspects were sent there for trial.

    However, earlier in February US officials and military lawyers who helped set up and run the notorious prison at Guantánamo Bay said that keeping the prison open might be a repeat of a "$6 billion mistake," according to the Guardian.

    "We've invested roughly $6.5 billion on detention in Guantánamo and what has it gotten us? We wasted our money. These guys could have been housed in federal prison for a fraction of the cost. We have over a thousand troops that are dedicated to the detention operations that could be used elsewhere. We have squandered our credibility around the world in these trials," said retired Colonel Morris Davis, a former chief prosecutor of the military commissions set up in 2002.

    According to the Human Rights First advocacy group, the annual cost of keeping one prisoner at Guantanamo is more than $10 million, compared to $78,000 at a federal supermax high-security prison on the US mainland.


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    terrorism, inmates, Guantanamo prison, Donald Trump, US, Cuba
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