President Joe Biden has begun efforts to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba ahead of the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
People familiar with discussions over the future of the facility told NBC News that Biden is hoping to close it by the end of his first term with aims to move at least some of the remaining 40 detainees to foreign countries.
From there the administration is reportedly hoping to convince Congress to permit the transfer of the remaining detainees to facilities on the U.S. mainland, NBC News said.
Last month, the Biden administration approved three detainees at Guantánamo Bay for release to countries that agreed to impose security conditions on them, including the oldest of the remaining wartime prisoners, the New York Times reported.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that the Biden administration was “actively looking” into creating the position of a State Department envoy for the closure of the prison, according to Reuters.
“I want to make sure that the department has what it needs both in terms of resources and personnel, and including someone who can focus on this full-time,” Blinken said during a hearing of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.
Biden’s efforts to close the facility would be the culmination of a campaign pledge to close the prison first made by former President Barack Obama.
Hundreds of people remained detained at the facility, which first opened in 2002 by former President George W. Bush, by the time that Obama took office and targeted closing the camp within his first year.
During his tenure, Obama whittled the number of detainees at Guantánamo Bay from 245 to 41. President Donald Trump later signed an executive order to keep the facility open and effectively ended the process for reviewing cases and releasing detainees from imprisonment if it was deemed no longer necessary. Only one detainee was transferred to a foreign country during Trump’s four years in office.