Department of Defense pauses plan to give COVID-19 vaccine to Guantanamo detainees

By Catherine Herridge, Cassidy McDonald

The Department of Defense on Saturday paused a plan to give the COVID-19 vaccine to detainees in the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. The camp houses about 40 prisoners, including high-value detainees such as the self-described architect of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

The Pentagon put the breaks on the program after Republicans criticized it for putting terror suspects ahead of vulnerable Americans.

The plan became public Friday when a spokesperson for the Department of Defense confirmed to CBS News and other outlets that the department would administer COVID-19 vaccines to all detainees on a voluntary basis.

“COVID-19 vaccinations will be offered to all detainees and prisoners. It will be administered on a voluntary basis and in accordance with the Department’s priority distribution plan,” the spokesperson said.

But the announcement was met with sharp criticism from GOP politicians. House minority leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted Saturday, “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.”

New York Representative Elise Stefanik tweeted that the plan was “inexcusable and un-American.”

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