As Desperate Detainees Hunger Strike, Pentagon Seeks $150M Gitmo Upgrade

By:  Michael Tennant
03/26/2013
       
As Desperate Detainees Hunger Strike, Pentagon Seeks $150M Gitmo Upgrade

The Defense Department is seeking a $150-million upgrade to the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, making it clear to the prisoners already on a hunger strike over their desperate and worsening situation that they are there to stay.

Anyone wondering why the inmates at America’s prison camp in the Caribbean are starving themselves to death need look no further than this story from NBC News: “The Pentagon is considering plans for a $150 million overhaul of the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — including building a new dining hall, hospital and barracks for the guards — as part of an ambitious project recommended by the top general in charge of its operations.”

In other words, despite campaign promises and an executive order from President Barack Obama — not to mention budget sequestration — Gitmo isn’t going away.

With an operating budget of $177 million to house just 166 detainees, Guantanamo is already costing taxpayers more than $1 million per prisoner annually, making it “the country’s most expensive prison per capita by far,” according to NBC.

Now the Defense Department is seeking almost as much again to upgrade the camp: nearly $100 million for new barracks for the 848 guards (more than five per prisoner), $12 million for a dining hall for the troops, $11.2 million for a hospital and medical unit for detainees, $9.9 million for a complex where detainees can meet with their lawyers, and $10.8 million for a “communications network facility” to store data. The camp is already getting a $40 million boost in the form of a fiber optic cable being laid from southern Florida to Guantanamo “to improve Internet access, thereby allowing officials to have improved live video feeds of the military commission proceedings of the Sept. 11 hijackers,” NBC reported.

With the sequester putting the squeeze on federal budgets, one might think the last place the Obama administration would want to spend more money is on a prison camp that the president has pledged to close and where, Gen. John Kelly, commander of the U.S. Southern Command, told the House Armed Services Committee, “everything … is at least twice as expensive” as it is back in the United States.

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