January 11, 2021 marks the 19th anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. Created under the administration of President George W. Bush in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Guantanamo continues to hold 40 detainees today, most without charge and inadequate access to medical care. The five men accused of planning the September 11 attacks have still yet to receive a trial after a series of delays. Over the years, many have pointed to Guantanamo as a symbol of the United States’ lack of commitment to human rights and perpetuation of torture.
As President Joe Biden prepares to take office and will become the fourth incumbent to preside over the prison, many are calling on him to shut down the prison. At the Munich Security Conference in February 2009, then-Vice President Joe Biden told the audience that “We will uphold the rights of those who we bring to justice. And we will close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.” 12 years later, many are calling on him to live up to this promise. Among them is Lisa Hajjar, professor of Sociology at UC Santa Barbara, who has been reporting on Guantanamo since 2010.
In honor of the prison’s 19th anniversary, KCSB’s Ashley Rusch sat down with Professor Hajjar to discuss the potential obstacles ahead for the Biden Administration in dealing with Guantanamo, and whether its likely the administration will shut down the prison for good.