Skip to main content

It is not news to any taxpayer in the country that the United States is facing a debt crisis and that public spending is under scrutiny like never before, yet one decade-long drain on the public exchequer has so far escaped the financial meltdown completely unscathed: The Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp.

The main detention facility at Gitmo cost about $220 million to build and, according to the White House, estimated annual operating expenses come in at around $150 million.

To give you an idea of the kind of value for money this investment represents, the Bureau of Prisons noted last year that it cost $27,251 to incarcerate someone in the federal prison system for a year, as compared to an estimated cost of $650,000 per inmate at Guantanamo.

In additional to the hundreds of millions of dollars lavished on the detention facilities, still more money has been poured into the development of courtrooms for the Military Commissions which, since their establishment in 2006, have only heard six cases.

The so-called Expeditionary Judicial Facility, built for $13.4 million in the heady days when the authorities thought the Military Commissions might actually be capable of hearing two whole cases at the same time, has only been used once since its construction.

The Department of Defense spent $2.2 million renovating accommodation for staff and observers involved in the trials which also currently stands empty.

Then there are the improvements made to the Naval Station itself, which has benefited from ancillary construction projects worth an estimated $500 million, including the construction of a go-cart track, an all-weather sports field, a volleyball court and twenty-seven playgrounds.

There are around 5,500 people living at the Naval Station, including 400 minors hopefully making the most of all those playgrounds, which must make the non-custodial residents of Guantanamo Bay one of the most heavily subsidized communities on American soil.

Last year, the Washington Post estimated that the total post-9/11 bill for spending on Guantanamo comes close to $2 billion. Yes, that’s $2 billion with a ‘b’ for a prison camp that currently holds around 170 prisoners, more than half of whom the administration would release tomorrow if a suitable country could be found to take them.

So, I have a modest proposal to make both parties. Close Guantanamo. Transfer the prisoners you can actually make a case against to federal court and release those you can’t. Then return the money saved to the treasury. That’s a lot of pocket change - change you can actually believe in.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Click here for the mobile view of the site