Despite long being part of the Democrats' agenda, especially under Obama, closing America's most controversial post-9/11 detention facility at Guananamo Bay, Cuba has remained elusive especially given the question of what to do with those "high security risk" prisoners housed there.
But now NBC is reporting that President Biden has "quietly" initiated efforts to pick up where Obama left off in pursing its permanent closure, but this time "using an under-the-radar approach to minimize political blowback" ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Biden's approach will reportedly be centered on a plan to transfer the remaining some 40 detainees to foreign countries for these host countries to deal with them legally. This would not, however, include the most infamous prisoner at Gitmo Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the group dubbed the "9/11 five" - believed to be directly behind the 9/11 terror attacks which killed about 3,000 Americans.
The "five" were supposed to stand trial in January 2021 but controversy over transferring them to the continental United States has seen any such request blocked by Congress. This also after Trump previously signed an executive order to keep Gitmo open.
A top former Biden administration official privy to the ongoing discussions said of the Biden White House and its "quiet" approach to closing Gitmo: "They don't want it to become a dominant issue that blows up," and further "They don't want it to become a lightning rod. They want it to be methodical, orderly."
A statement from the National Security Council (NSC) to NBC reads as follows: "As to the overall issue of Guantanamo, the Biden administration remains committed to the goal of closing the facility." It added: "To that end, the NSC continues to work closely with the Departments of Defense, State, and Justice and other departments and agencies."
Last January Gitmo was again at the center of controversy when the Biden admin abandoned plans to prioritize giving Gitmo terrorists the COVID-19 vaccine following a wave of public outrage.
In terms of timeline an actual full closure would take years to finally accomplish, but the White House reportedly hopes to make significant progress on prisoner transfers to foreign countries amid resolving a complex web of legal issues by the time of this upcoming 9/11 anniversary, which is also Biden's deadline for the final Afghan troop withdrawal.