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Guantanamo has to "keep the lights on" for now

Thursday, April 21, 2016 - 01:22

Authorities and detainees at the Guantanamo Bay military prison prepare for the possibility of the facility's closure and say the ''general spirit'' is lifting. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: IMAGES FILMED IN GUANTANAMO BAY WERE REVIEWED BY U.S. MILITARY AUTHORITIES. Detainees at Guantanamo Bay military run prison and the authorities who guard them are preparing for the possibility that they could soon leave the facility, as lawmakers in Washington stand ready for a legal battle against moving prisoners to the continental United States. Joint Task Force Guantanamo commander Rear Admiral Peter Clarke said authorities are in position to either keep Guantanamo Bay open or shut it down, depending on whether President Barack Obama attains his goal of closing the controversial detention center at the U.S. naval base in Cuba before he leaves office in January 2017. "The image that Guantanamo portrays is of what happened in the past somewhere else, not even here, but it still it is the face of not such good things that may have happened in the past, and I fully support his effort to just close that chapter of American history," Joint Task Force Guantanamo commander Rear Admiral Peter Clarke said during an interview at the U.S. naval base in Cuba on Tuesday (April 19). The United States on Saturday (April 16) transferred nine Yemeni men to Saudi Arabia from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo, bringing the number of prisoners at Guantanamo to 80. As the number of detainees decreases, Navy Captain Richard Quattrone, who is the senior medical officer of the Task Force, said he is seeing more and more patients. "You definitely see, especially as each transfer occurs, you can feel just kind of the general spirit lift within the camps," he said. "Many of them are starting to get concerned that they do want to think about all their medical issues before they may leave here, and so they are proactively now trying to engage us where for many years they might not have wanted anything to do with the medical folks or anyone here and might have just tried to really resist any attempt for us to proactively help them," Quattrone added. The weekend transfer, which included an inmate who had been on a hunger strike since 2007, took place just days before President Barack Obama's visit to Saudi Arabia for a summit of Gulf Arab allies. The Saudis agreed, after lengthy negotiations that at one point involved Obama and Saudi King Salman, to take the nine Yemenis for resettlement and put them through a government-run rehabilitation program that seeks to reintegrate militants into society, U.S. officials said. The group announced by the Pentagon was the largest shipped out of the Guantanamo Bay prison since Obama rolled out his plan in February aimed at shutting the facility, releasing a Pentagon-authored proposal of 13 unidentified potential sites on U.S. soil to hold some 30-60 detainees in maximum-security prisons. Obama faces stiff opposition from many Republican lawmakers as well as some fellow Democrats.

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Guantanamo has to "keep the lights on" for now

Thursday, April 21, 2016 - 01:22