Guantanamo Bay Naval Station Fast Facts
January 31, 2002
HAVANA, Cuba – At the time of publication, Cuban officials had not yet decided what to do with the Guantanamo military base, which housed 758 detainees from the U.S., Cuba and 19 other countries. The decision had been made in Washington in response to the Sept. 11 attacks.
The U.S. had closed the base on Aug. 24, shortly after the September 11 attacks, but remained committed to establishing an air base and a dock where ships from Cuba could dock instead.
On Jan. 23, President Bush announced that the U.S. would transfer the facility to Cuba, and that it would be used for military purposes only. The Defense Department had been asked to study the question of whether to transfer or keep the base. The U.S. government decided to keep the Guantanamo base, but moved the military activities there to other facilities.
By law, the government must be able to send all foreigners being held at Guantanamo, including any from the United States, to any other country in response to an unruly detainee.
Since Sept. 11, the U.S. has tried to transfer the detainees to countries where the United States could control them and could not detain them due to fears of terrorism. In December 2002, the administration announced that it would allow detainees to seek transfer to other countries but would not send them outside the United States.
The government has been trying to set up a third country to assume custody of Guantanamo detainees, and has been considering the site in Cuba for several years – the second-largest naval facility in the world. In the past, Cuba has sent people in for prosecution to the United States, or tried to send to the United States for prosecution in Cuba. Other countries that have sent detainees to Cuba include South Korea, Egypt, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia.
The Bush administration has said that it could send the detainees to any country that the U.S. would recognize, but that the U.S. would not send people back to Cuba to face charges there.
U.S. officials have said they would only send people to third countries where the U.S. did not have