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Attorney General Nominee William Barr on Gitmo ‘HIV Prison Camp’: We Were in a ‘Catch-22’

Attorney General nominee William Barr acknowledged on Tuesday that hundreds of HIV-infected Haitian asylum-seekers were held at Guantanamo Bay detention center while he was Attorney General in the 1990s, but he blamed the move on the government being in a “Catch-22” at the time. Barr told Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) during his confirmation hearing that he did not support keeping the immigrants at Gitmo “indefinitely” during the Bush administration but did not have many options. “HIV was an exclusion—you could not admit anyone with HIV,” he said. “We were trying to process the HIV people on a case-by-case basis... It was a mass exodus situation and we did the best we could.” Barr also said he sent staffers down there and found no evidence of inhumane conditions, and said his actions were “right under the law.” As The Daily Beast reported ahead of his confirmation hearing, when Barr served as Attorney General from 1991 to 1993, he had purview of a program that held 310 HIV-positive Haitians at Guantanamo’s Camp Bulkely after they were barred from entering the U.S. due to their health status.