Four years after Obama promised to close it, Guantanamo Bay military prison will get $195.7 million in renovations and new construction
DailyMail: President Barack Obama famously promised in early 2009 to close the US military’s detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba within 12 months. But new Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is instead considering a proposal from his top commanders to spend $195.7 million renovating it and erecting a new prison building.
The new construction would include $49 to house high-value targets like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind the 9/11 terror attacks, whose initial detention and interrogation was handled by the Central Intelligence Agency.
The New York Times reported that it would likely replace Camp 7, the oft-rumored but never acknowledged installation for those ‘special’ detainees.
General John F. Kelly, who leads the United military’s Southern Command, testified in a congressional hearing Wednesday that with no end to the prison’s operation in sight, repairs and upgrades are needed.
Retired Air Force Col. Morris Davis, a former chief prosecutor at the Guantanamo Bay base, said in a separate interview with Russia Today that the US military spends $120 million annually ‘just on the recurring costs of keeping the detainees there.’
The Times reported that the Pentagon funding request includes $99 million for two new barracks facilities and a new mess hall costing $12 million.
Military planners also want to reduce the frequent prisoner transportation around the base by placing new legal, medical and communications facilities at central locations in the main detention camps.
The existing facilities, Col. Davis said, ‘just weren’t meant to last for 10 or 11 years,’ ‘There’s a lot of money being wasted at Guantanamo,’ he added, ‘and a lot of our prestige is going down the tubes as well. So there’s just no good reason to keep it going.’
Protesters including Americans, Indonesians and citizens of other Muslim countries have pressured the Bush and Obama administrations to close the installation.
But Bush – and, later, Obama – reportedly determined that the value of extracting information from terrorists and their confederates outweighed the reputational damage caused by Americans holding prisoners indefinitely under circumstances that would be unconstitutional if the detainees were US citizens.
In January the Obama White House reassigned Daniel Fried, the special envoy for closing the Cuban prison, and determined that it would not replace him.
The administration created Fried’s job in 2009, shortly after Obama took office and promised to close Guantanamo within a year. The envoy negotiated the repatriation of 31 low-level detainees to their own countries, and convinced other nations to accept about 40 more whose release was approved, but who feared government oppression or other abuse if they returned home.
Our military is feeling the pain with the sequester cuts and this admin wants to upgrade facilities for terrorists? Elections have consequences.