Military Closes Once-Secret Guantanamo Bay Prison Unit

For 15 years the U.S. military and CIA ran a secret prison unit within the Guantanamo Bay base. They refused to confirm its location on the base and never allowed journalists to see it. On Sunday the Pentagon disclosed is has closed mystery-shrouded Camp 7 and relocated the prisoners who were being held there to adjacent Camp 5.

The Miami-based Southern Command revealed few details about the move, declining to specify how many prisoners were relocated, only that they were moved “safely and without incident.” At one point officials had said that 14 men were being held at Camp 7. There are thought to be 40 prisoners at Guantanamo.

Southern Command said the move was made “to increase operational efficiency and effectiveness.” Camp 7, which officials said was never intended to be permanent, had fallen into disrepair and had structural issues that needed be addressed. The Pentagon initially had intended to make the necessary repairs but ultimately decided it was better decision financially not to proceed.

President Joe Biden has said he wants to close the Guantanamo prison camps before the end of his administration, but that would require the approval of Congress to move the prisoners housed there to U.S. soil for trial or imprisonment.

Camp 7 was opened in December 2006 to accept prisoners who previously had been kept in CIA detention facilities around the world. Those so-called “black sites” subjected the detainees to brutal interrogation techniques under the administration of former president George W. Bush. Among those being held at Camp 7 are five men who are charged with war crimes for their alleged roles in planning and providing logistical support for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacks.

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