Guantanamo Bay detainees at 13-year low, but remains open

Insight

As the new year began, the Pentagon announced it was transferring five more prisoners out of the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. That leaves the number of detainees at more than 125. While the number of terror suspects is at its lowest since 2002, the facility is still open. CCTV America’s Nathan King reported this story from Washington, D.C.

Guantanamo Bay detainees at 13-year low, but prison remains open

In Insight, we look in depth at the US detention facility: Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. As the new year began, the Pentagon announced it was transferring five more prisoners from the site. That leaves the number of detainees at more than 125. While the number of terror suspects is at its lowest since 2002, the prison camp is still open. CCTV America's Nathan King reported this story from Washington, D.C.

“This needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantanamo Bay,” U.S. President Barack Obama said.

In January 2009, Obama signed an executive order pledging to close the controversial prison within a year, but five years later, it’s still open.

Initially, the Obama Administration planned to transfer the prisoners at Guantanamo to the U.S., but that effort ran into congressional opposition. Finding safe places to send those not charged with crimes has proven difficult.

Comparing Guantanamo detainees in Jan. 2002 to Jan. 2015, the number has decreased by more than 650 detainees, from 779 to 127.

According to U.S. government numbers, 92 percent of the men were never found to be al-Qaida fighters. However, accelerated prisoner transfers have raised security concerns even without charges.

While the Obama administration has upped the pace of releases like some former prisoners readjusting to life in Uruguay, legal rights groups say the prison at Guantanamo remains a stain on the American image abroad.

That image was reinforced last month with the release of a withering Senate report detailing CIA enhanced interrogation techniques against Guantanamo inmates. Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo prisoner, said the policy helped fuel the rise of groups like the Islamic State.

“ISIS was born in the dungeons of Abu Ghraib, it was born in the dungeons of the Iraqi prisons that were under U.S. occupation, and that’s where this hatred and animosity has, has festered,” Begg said. “So what we found now, we’re in a situation that’s worse than the beginning of the ‘war on terror’.”