The United States has changed its mind about vaccinating prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility against COVID-19. On his Twitter account, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby announced the suspension of the plan.
Under the DOD proposal, 40 Guantanamo Bay detainees, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, were to have been vaccinated by the United States.
“None of the Guantanamo prisoners have been vaccinated. We are suspending this plan as we review the compound protection protocols. We remain committed to keeping our troops safe,” Kirby wrote.
As RIA Novosti notes, Republican lawmakers have criticized the Defense Department’s plan. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy noted that U.S. President Joe Biden did not say that the plan to combat the coronavirus included “vaccinating terrorists before most Americans.” For her part, Congresswoman Eliza Stefanik called the priority of vaccinating prisoners instead of the elderly and veterans “inexcusable.”
The number of those infected with the coronavirus at Guantanamo is unknown; at the beginning of the pandemic, the military reported two cases of infection at the base. Since then, the DOD has stopped disclosing such data.
The Guantanamo Bay prison is a camp for people suspected by U.S. authorities of various crimes, mostly terrorism, waging war on the side of the enemy. It is located on an indefinitely leased naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
On January 21, 2009, then-President Barack Obama signed an executive order to disband the prison. The camp was supposed to close within a year, but the decision was not enforced. In early 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an order to keep the military prison at Guantanamo.