White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced during a Friday news conference that the US National Security Council (NSC) has launched a formal review of the prison at the US' Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
“We are undertaking an NSC process ... to assess the current state of play that the Biden administration, we have inherited from the previous administration,” Psaki told reporters.
The press secretary revealed that closing the military prison is the "goal and intention" of the administration's review.
However, the process of closing cannot start in earnest until the confirmation of "sub-Cabinet policy roles at the Defense, State, and Justice Departments," Psaki noted.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told lawmakers last month that he supports US President Joe Biden's push to close the detention center and would be open to assisting with the administration's “path forward."
“I believe it is time for the detention facility at Guantanamo to close its doors,” he said in written testimony for his Senate confirmation hearing.
The Pentagon press secretary, John F. Kirby, reiterated Austin's support on Friday.
The Biden administration's push to close the military prison comes as a continuation of former US President Barack Obama's efforts to do the same.
While Obama signed a 2010 executive order mandating that the facility be shuttered in a year's time, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle passed a set of bills prohibiting the transfer of prisoners into the US. Many argued that detainees released or transferred would revert back to terrorism.
"Of the nearly 800 detainees once held at Guantanamo, more than 85 percent have already been transferred to other countries," Obama claimed in 2016. "More than 500 of these transfers, by the way, occurred under President Bush. Since I took office, we’ve so far transferred 147 more, each under new, significant restrictions to keep them from returning to the battlefield."
Former US President Donald Trump, who argued that it was "crazy" for the US to annually spend $13 million per Guantanamo inmate, blasted Obama's attempts to close the facility that were in fact stymied by a Republican-controlled Congress.
“We’re looking at a lot of things,” Trump claimed in 2019. “Look, President Obama said that Guantánamo Bay would be closed, and he never got it done.”
The Trump administration transferred just one inmate, Ahmed Muhammed Haza al-Darbi, during his presidency.