On 11th January 2011, the first 20 prisoners arrived at Guantánamo Bay. Hundreds of prisoners have been airlifted there since. 171 prisoners are still there. 88 of those men have been cleared for release, but a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that bans all future transfers from Guantanamo Bay and gives the US the lawful power to hold these men – or indeed anyone at all – indefinitely without due process. There is no indication that at a national level either the Democratic or Republican Party in the US wishes to close down Guantanamo Bay or the other offshore prisons where people can be held indefinitely: these are perceived as a useful, even a necessary resource.
Here’s how that first airlift is described in ABCNEWS at the time:
U.S. forces took their first group of al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners out of Afghanistan today, marching a group of 20 shackled, hooded prisoners onto an U.S. Air Force C-17 and taking off from Kandahar airport.
The prisoners are expected to be flown to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, where they will be loaded onto a C-141 equipped for prisoner transport to Guantanamo Bay, due to arrive on Friday.
The prisoners were all chained together and outnumbered 2-to-1 by guards armed with stun guns.
Pentagon officials told ABCNEWS the prisoners might be sedated if necessary, and reports from a number of media outlets, including USA Today, said they would be chained to their seats, forced to use portable urinals and fed by their guards.