Pentagon halts Guantanamo Bay prisoner vaccine plan amid backlash
UPDATED 12:30 PM PT – Sunday, January 31, 2021
The Pentagon halted plans to vaccinate Guantanamo Bay prisoners amid backlash from Republican lawmakers. On Saturday, the Pentagon press secretary confirmed that no detainees had been vaccinated and officials paused their plans.
No Guantanamo detainees have been vaccinated. We’re pausing the plan to move forward, as we review force protection protocols. We remain committed to our obligations to keep our troops safe.
— John Kirby (@PentagonPresSec) January 30, 2021
The original memo granted the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to the 40 detainees remaining at the facility, which included those accused of coordinating the September 11 terrorist attacks. A demolition supervisor who was at Ground Zero said it’s insulting to those who risked their lives to run into the burning towers, especially to the heroes who did not survive.
Republicans also pushed back and claimed Joe Biden was prioritizing terrorists over Americans who still don’t have access to the vaccine.
‘Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to get COVID-19 vaccine in Guantanamo’
It is inexcusable and un-American that President Biden is choosing to prioritize vaccinations for convicted terrorists in Gitmo over vulnerable American seniors or veterans. https://t.co/wx52bPYeoO
— Rep. Elise Stefanik (@RepStefanik) January 30, 2021
Brian Sullivan, a retired special security agent with the FAA, expressed outrage because he is in an at-risk age group for the virus, but has not been vaccinated. Sullivan said this year will mark the 20th-anniversary of the September 11 attacks and it would be a slap in the face if the orchestrators got special treatment.
The vaccination plan has been paused and Pentagon officials said they will “review force protection protocols” in the meantime.