Guantánamo prison, with 107 detainees and defense attorneys purchasing basic supplies for long-held captives, is lining up a supplier for up to $1 million in socks, shoes, orange jumpsuits and other basic prisoner provisions through the year 2020.
In early October, a dozen lawyers for some of the detainees, separately, described their clients as showing up at legal meetings looking so disheveled that they had been purchasing them basic supplies from shoes to T-shirts and socks at the base commissary — something the Army guard force allowed.
Of the 107 remaining detainees, 48 are currently approved for release.
“Stuff’s just not getting replaced,” attorney George Clarke told the Herald, adding that in late September he went to the base commissary and spent about $300 on slip-on canvas shoes, plastic sandals, T-shirts and towels for his two Yemeni captives awaiting release. “They say the stuff they get is crap. Or they’re not getting it.”
Clarke added that the detention center staff had in recent months been more accepting of contributions from the attorneys, suggesting prison commanders are confronted with a cash crunch or have realized they can pass along costs of basics to the private sector.
The prison spokesman said by email Monday that “reports of shortages are baseless.”
Navy Capt. Christopher Scholl, the spokesman, said there was no connection between the lawyers buying basic issue for their long-held clients and the government recently inviting contractors to compete for an up to $1 million contract to provide basic supplies — T-shirts, footwear, socks, underwear, towels, and “prison uniforms.”
On Nov. 2, Scholl said, the prison took delivery on $129 in “clothing items” for the captives under an existing contract.
He refused to say what the prison got for $129.
$129 value of clothing items the prison purchased for its detainee supply stocks Nov. 2
In October, another lawyer, Patricia Bronte, furnished the Herald with a commissary receipt showing she had spent $136.25 on shoes and socks for two other Yemeni prisoners.
“We continually maintain sufficient quantities of all supplies in stock to ensure the welfare of our detainees,” said Scholl, who also did not respond to repeated Miami Herald requests for a list of supplies purchased by the prison this year.
(Update: Tuesday, hours after the Herald published this article about the solicitation — along with the original document — the Army amended it to cover the period ending Dec. 31, 2020. The earlier solicitation sought to spread out the $1 million acquisition through 2022.)
Reports of shortages are baseless.
Navy Capt. Christopher Scholl, Guantánamo prison spokesman
Scholl said the $129 in supplies was furnished by “M.L. Click Marketing,” a government small business contractor in Phoenix whose website shows it provides “quality prison supplies” to federal customers. “True Uniform was founded exclusively to support the Federal Bureau of Prisons with institutional supplies,” it says.
The solicitation apparently has not taken into consideration President Barack Obama’s efforts to close the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, before he leaves office. It seeks a contractor to provide delivery of the detainee supplies under a Blanket Purchasing Agreement, or BPA, though the year 2020.
The supplier shall furnish prison uniforms, linen and shoes if and when requested by the contracting officer.
U.S. Army solicitation
It set a Dec. 15 deadline for price quotes on the costs of individual items, including different colored prison uniforms that commanders in past years have described as indicating for the guard force different levels of captive compliance with prison rules.
“Since the government intends to issue the BPA without discussions, suppliers are encouraged to offer their most advantageous pricing with their response accompanied with any descriptive literature,” the solicitation adds.
It is not possible to independently test the lawyers’ impression of disheveled detainees because the military has forbidden news media visits at the detention center for the rest of the year. A Miami Herald visit this week was canceled, citing a new policy of no media visits with the troops on holiday weeks.
The last known journalists to see detainees in the cell blocks, representing Rolling Stone and Britain’s Daily Mail, were allowed inside the detention center Oct. 6-7 — a day before the Herald poll of a dozen lawyers was published.
As of this week, the detention center houses 107 captives — 48 cleared for release to other countries if the State Department can negotiate security arrangements that satisfy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. Another 10 are in criminal proceedings, including six former CIA captives awaiting death-penalty trials. The remaining captives are held as either possible candidates for trial or “Law of War” prisoners, a status designated by the Obama administration that considers them too dangerous to release but ineligible for trial.