Pentagon Blocks Biden's Plan to Prioritize Terrorists for COVID Vaccines
Guantanamo Bay vaccinations halted following widespread backlash
The Pentagon has halted Joe Biden's plan to prioritize terrorists and other detainees and Guantanamo Bay for COVID-19 vaccines following a widespread backlash over the move.
On Saturday, the Department of Defense (DOD) announced that it is "pausing" the vaccination plan.
The decision has come after accusations from 9/11 survivors and Republicans that the Biden administration is prioritizing terror suspects over Americans.
"No Guantanamo detainees have been vaccinated," DOD Press Secretary John Kirby tweeted.
"We’re pausing the plan to move forward, as we review force protection protocols," Kirby added.
"We remain committed to our obligations to keep our troops safe."
A lack of vaccinations had reportedly made it difficult for federal prosecutors to move forward with war crimes hearings at the base.
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 order was signed on Jan. 27 by Terry Adirim, the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for health affairs who was sworn in as a Biden appointee on Inauguration Day, a Pentagon spokesman told the New York Post.
"It will be administered on a voluntary basis and in accordance with the Department’s priority distribution plan," a spokesman told the outlet.
Detainees at the base include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, or KSM, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.
It’s unclear how many Guantanamo inmates, if any, have been infected with COVID-19 to date.
Vaccinations for medical workers and some troops stationed at the base began on Jan. 8.
But the move sparked fierce pushback from Republicans and 9/11 survivors.
"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," Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) said Saturday.
"President Biden told us he would have a plan to defeat the virus on day 1," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted.
"He just never told us that it would be to give the vaccine to terrorists before most Americans."
President Biden told us he would have a plan to defeat the virus on day 1. He just never told us that it would be to give the vaccine to terrorists before most Americans.— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) January 30, 2021
"You can’t make this up," Tom Von Essen, who was city fire commissioner during 9/11, told the Post.
"The ridiculousness of what we get from our government.
"They will run the vaccine down to those lowlifes at Guantanamo Bay before every resident of the United States of America gets it is the theater of the absurd."