The Biden administration appears to be walking back plans to vaccinate the detainees at Guantanamo Bay after the move that would have included suspected terrorists stirred furor.
“No Guantanamo detainees have been vaccinated,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby tweeted on Saturday. “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.”
That’s an abrupt departure from what the Pentagon told the New York Post on Friday, when the Department of Defense confirmed that officials had signed an order which will see COVID-19 vaccinations “offered to all detainees and prisoners.” The shots were on track to begin as soon as this coming week.
“It will be administered on a voluntary basis and in accordance with the Department’s priority distribution plan,” spokesman Michael Howard told the Post on Friday.
The backlash was swift — and hard. A retired FAA official from Massachusetts who has long called out the failures of 9/11 told the Herald on Friday that that policy would be “insane.”
“I haven’t got a shot yet — and I’m 75. Our country has lost our collective mind,” said Brian Sullivan, a now-retired Federal Aviation Administration official based in Boston who warned of a terror attack at Logan just months before it happened.
As the Post first reported, 40 detainees remain at the United States military prison in Cuba, including the man accused of plotting the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil, which claimed 2,977 innocent lives on Sept. 11, 2001. That’s Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — infamously “KSM,” as the military refers to him — who’s accused of masterminding the 9/11 attacks.
As the Herald has previously reported, a new judge was taking over the 9/11 military tribunal of the Gitmo detainees that include Mohammed and other alleged accomplices.
All face military execution if found guilty of conspiring with the hijackers who launched a coordinated attack on the U.S. on 9/11 — including on two jets that took off from Logan International Airport that sunny morning.
Other detainees are: Mohammed al-Qahtani, who officials have labeled the 20th hijacker; Ramzi Bin al Shibh, said to have been the main intermediary between the hijackers and al-Qaeda leaders; Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, known as Ammar al-Baluchi, a nephew and lieutenant of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed; al-Baluchi’s assistant, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, and Walid Bin Attash, a detainee known as Khallad, who investigators say selected and trained some of the 19 hijackers.
All remain held in Guantanamo Bay, a controversial detention center for the U.S. military that once held nearly 800 prisoners, though most have since been transferred out. None of those remaining there have yet been tried for the attack.
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