The Guantanamo Bay detention camp is a United States military prison located within Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, also referred to as Guantánamo, G-bay or GTMO (pronounced 'gitmo'), which fronts on Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. At the time of its establishment in January 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said the prison camp was established to detain extraordinarily dangerous people, to interrogate detainees in an optimal setting, and to prosecute detainees for war crimes.
The Department of Defense at first kept secret the identity of the individuals held in Guantanamo, but, after losing attempts to defy a Freedom of Information Act request from the Associated Press, the USA would later officially acknowledge holding 779 prisoners in the camp. The facility is operated by the Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) of the United States government in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Detainment areas consisted of Camp Delta (including Camp Echo), Camp Iguana, and Camp X-Ray (which is now closed).
After Bush political appointees at the U.S. Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice advised the Bush administration that the Guantanamo Bay detention camp could be considered outside U.S. legal jurisdiction, military guards took the first twenty detainees to Guantanamo on 11 January 2002. The Bush administration asserted that detainees were not entitled to any of the protections of the Geneva Conventions. Ensuing U.S. Supreme Court decisions since 2004 have determined otherwise and that the courts have jurisdiction: it ruled in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld on 29 June 2006, that detainees were entitled to the minimal protections listed under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. Following this, on 7 July 2006, the Department of Defense issued an internal memo stating that detainees would, in the future, be entitled to protection under Common Article 3.
Current and former detainees have reported abuse and torture, which the Bush administration denied. In a 2005 Amnesty International report, the facility was called the "Gulag of our times." In 2006, the United Nations called unsuccessfully for the Guantanamo Bay detention camp to be closed. In January 2009, Susan J. Crawford, appointed by Bush to review DoD practices used at Guantanamo Bay and oversee the military trials, became the first Bush administration official to concede that torture occurred at Guantanamo Bay on one detainee.
On 22 January 2009, President Barack Obama issued a request to suspend proceedings at Guantanamo military commission for 120 days and to shut down the detention facility that year. On 29 January 2009, a military judge at Guantanamo rejected the White House request in the case of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, creating an unexpected challenge for the administration as it reviewed how the United States brings Guantanamo detainees to trial. On 20 May 2009, the United States Senate passed an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009 (H.R. 2346) by a 90–6 vote to block funds needed for the transfer or release of prisoners held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. President Obama issued a Presidential memorandum dated 15 December 2009, ordering Thomson Correctional Center, Thomson, Illinois to be prepared to accept transferred Guantanamo prisoners.
The Final Report of the Guantanamo Review Task Force, dated 22 January 2010, published the results for the 240 detainees subject to the Review: 36 were the subject of active cases or investigations; 30 detainees from Yemen were designated for "conditional detention" due to the poor security environment in Yemen; 126 detainees were approved for transfer; 48 detainees were determined "too dangerous to transfer but not feasible for prosecution".
On 7 January 2011, President Obama signed the 2011 Defense Authorization Bill, which, in part, placed restrictions on the transfer of Guantanamo prisoners to the mainland or to foreign countries, thus impeding the closure of the facility. In February 2011, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that Guantanamo Bay was unlikely to be closed, due to opposition in the Congress. Congress particularly opposed moving prisoners to facilities in the United States for detention or trial. In April 2011, Wikileaks began publishing 779 secret files relating to prisoners in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. As of November 2015, 107 detainees remain at Guantanamo.
On November 4th, 2015 Barack Obama stated that he is preparing to unveil a plan to shutter the facility and move some of the terrorism suspects held there to U.S. soil. The plan will propose one or more prisons from a working list that includes facilities in Kansas, Colorado and South Carolina. Two others that were on the list, in California and Washington state, don’t appear to have made the preliminary cut, according to a senior administration official familiar with the proposal.
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