This is great. You get the opportunity to serve your country and nobodys shooting at us. Plus, theres no mortars coming in, said Army Staff Sgt. Fred Plimpton, 55, who was a New York state trooper who was dispatched to Ground Zero on 9/11 and later deployed to Baghdad.
And, its close enough to home that members of the New York Army National Guard infantry unit now patrolling the prison camps perimeter can race home if theres an emergency.
Peters wife just had a baby and we got him right home, Plimpton said in September. Moffits wife went into labor and we got him out of here right away. Its good to see the guys get out of here when a babys born.
Only in an operation bursting with personnel and charter aircraft can that even happen.
At Southern Command, Army Col. Scott Malcom notes that because the Pentagon is holding its prisoners on a military base in a foreign country it needs more security measures than on U.S. soil. He also cautions against making a straight comparison between military detention operations and civilian correctional facilities.
For example, for federal prison guards, being a correctional officer is a career, a commuter job. They sleep at home, carry their own meals, entertain themselves on their days off. Prison staff come and go on mostly nine- to 12-month rotations, aboard special charter flights, are put up in special housing, help themselves to all-you-can-eat rations from the same dining hall that feeds the captives up to 4,500 calories a day.
But thats exactly what the Obama administration did this summer in a letter to Congress. The Defense Department spends approximately $150 million per year on detention operations at Guantánamo, currently at a rate of more than $800,000 per detainee, Attorney General Eric Holder and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other Cabinet members wrote Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and others.
Meanwhile, our federal prisons spend a little over $25,000 per year, per prisoner, and federal courts and prosecutors routinely handle numerous terrorist case a year well within their operating budgets.
The Herald then sought to do a line-by-line analysis of the expenses, with which the secretive prison camp command refused to participate. It instructed The Miami Herald to file a Freedom of Information Act request, which Southcom refused to expedite in consideration of the ongoing budget debate.
Instead, The Herald was able to create a snapshot of the costs.
The Pentagon confirmed that U.S. troops working at the prison camps get the same hostile fire and imminent danger pay as their battlefield counterparts in Afghanistan.
In September, a massage chair was the centerpiece of an office for a special Navy mental health counseling unit set up to minister to stressed out prison camp staff, such as guards. It was such a success that the unit ordered up another and two biorhythm machines to assist in counseling sessions.
Its two months later, the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery still hasnt been able to figure out how much it spent on purchasing and delivering even the first massage chair.
The camps spokeswoman, Navy Cmdr. Tamsen Reese, said by email Oct. 27 that the prison executed $2.4M in FY11 for detainee rations. Feeding the 1,850 prison staff who eat from the same kitchen is not included, she said.
Thats $38.45 a captive a day for food delivered to each prisoner.
Its more than five times as much as the average American spends on food a day and nearly 17 times as much as the State of Florida spends to feed its prisoners.
At Guantánamo, the military imports all its food by both cargo airplane and barge from Jacksonville.
A Florida Department of Corrections spokeswoman, Jo Elly Rackleff, notes that the state grows some of the food.