The comptroller figures, dated June 2013 and marked For Official Use Only, first surfaced last week at a subcommittee hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee called by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., a longtime advocate of closure.
Do the math: 166 prisoners, $454 million. We are spending $2.7 million per year for each detainee held at Guantánamo Bay, he said last Wednesday. What does it cost to put a prisoner and keep them in the safest and most secure prison in America in Florence, Colo.? $78,000 a year against $2.7 million that were spending in Guantánamo.
More math shows Durbins $78,000 estimate of Colorado SuperMax confinement means Guantánamo is about 35 times as expensive in a prison that doesnt maintain a court system or house, feed and entertain its guards.
Guantánamos troops do a magnificent job under difficult circumstances, said Durbin, according to a transcript of the hearing. But the costs would be fiscally irresponsible during ordinary economic times. But its even worse when the Department of Defense is struggling to deal with the impact of sequestration, including the furloughs and cutbacks and training for our troops.
The Defense Department report doesnt specifically detail housing costs, and Durbins spokesman said the senators staff had no additional information. But the comptrollers summary of costs provides categories that the Pentagon now acknowledges are prison-camp related.
For 2013 they include:
• $14.1 million for prisoner review boards for the 71 captives at Guantánamo who are currently not cleared for release, convicted of crimes or awaiting trial;
• $40 million, already appropriated by Congress for a not-yet-built fiber-optic cable linking the base to Florida;
• $56.9 million for contractors, including intelligence analysts, librarians and linguists;
• $65.9 million to the Navy base, which functions as a landlord to the detention center zone, and charges for use of its facilities, including prison staff housing;
• $116 million for the bases war court complex, including security, translation and computer services as well as charter fights between Washington and Guantánamo.
At the U.S. Southern Command in Doral, Army Col. Greg Julian said the $454.1 million estimate for this year does include some one-time infrastructure expenses, such as the $40 million fiber-optic cable. But it doesnt take into consideration all the money we requested to replace the aging facilities including construction of a new Camp 7 for the alleged architect of the 9/11 attack, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, and 14 other former CIA captives.
Southcom has also sought but not yet won appropriation of funding for a new prison dining facility for both troops and captives and new barracks for the troops, who now live in a range of housing around the base.