Today, the House Armed Services Committee will debate the merits of continuing to operate an expensive and unnecessary detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO). Recently, Ranking Member Adam Smith authored an oped, “An Exit Strategy from Detention at Guantanamo,” laying out the reasons why the facility should be closed.
Beyond the national security reasons for closing the facility, there are persuasive cost justifications for closing the facility as well. For example, we are currently spending approximately $1.6 million per detaineeeach year at Guantanamo Bay, compared to $34,046 per inmate at a High Security Federal Prison. Below, you will find a more detailed breakdown of what it costs to maintain and operate GTMO, some of the historical costs associated with the facility, and, in comparison, what it costs per inmate at a High Security Federal Prison. Additionally, both the Associated Press (story) and Reuters (story) wrote extensive stories laying out the exorbitant cost of running and maintaining the facility.
As the committee debates what should be done to close the facility, Smith will propose multiple amendments designed to give the President the flexibility needs. Specifically, Smith will move to strike section 1035 of the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization, which restrict the President’s ability to transfer detainees.
Additionally, the Chairman’s mark provides $61 million more than the Department of Defense had planned to spend on replacing existing temporary infrastructure to instead construct permanent facilities at Guantanamo Bay. At a time when our country is facing the negative effects of sequestration, we should be working to close this expensive and unnecessary facility rather than seeking to spend additional funds to make it permanent.
At a minimum, prior to proceeding with construction of replacement facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Members should have a full accounting of the costs required to keep Guantanamo Bay open, including detention operations and future infrastructure investments. For this reason, Congressman Rob Andrews will offer an amendment to condition funding for military construction at Guantanamo Bay on Congress receiving a report on the historical and future costs of operating and maintain Guantanamo Bay. The amendment would also reduce the amount of funding authorized for construction at Guantanamo Bay by $61 million so no permanent facilities are authorized for construction.
Annual Cost of Detention Operations at Guantanamo Bay
Linguists at Guantanamo Bay
Operations & Maintenance, Army (OCO)
Office of Military Commissions
Office of Military Commission (NCR)
Office of Military Commission (USARSO)
Annual Cost Per Detainee (166 detainees)
Source: Department of Defense
Annual Cost Per Inmate in High Security Federal Prison