Spain to Take Another Three Guantanamo Detainees, Time to Close Up Shop

Spain, which already agreed to accept two Guantanamo detainees, has agreed to take another three who have been cleared for release.

There are 192 detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay. Approximately 110 have been cleared for resettlement in a third country or for repatriation.

So that leaves 82 detainees not cleared for release: 5 of them are the 9/11 defendants and 5 have been designated for military tribunals. 72 of them are unlikely to be charged at all. We just don't like the idea of letting them go.

For 82 detainees, we are going to spend $237 million to retrofit Thomson or $100 million a year to continue to operate Guantanamo? [More...]

The cost of retrofitting Thomson Correctional Center to house Guantanamo detainees, and one year of operating costs, as contained in Obama's 2011 budget, is $237 million. It is anticipated that 100 to 120 Guantanamo detainees will be held there (most indefinitely, without charges ever being filed against them.) The cost of housing the detainees there? For one year:

Justice Department officials told reporters that includes about $23 million for security, $15 million for transportation, $15 million for litigation, $7 million for detainee housing and another $12 million for related expenses.

Total for one year: $57 million. The cost of operating Guantanamo is $90 to $118 million per year.

So, for 77 detainees (or 82 if you count the 9/11 defendants) who have not been cleared for release, the cost of Thomson, at $57 million for one year, will be $695,000 per detainee.

If Gitmo is not closed and they continue to be held there, at an operating cost of $90 to $118 million a year, it will cost $1.3 million per year per detainee.

The cost of housing an inmate at Supermax in Florence: Around $60,000 a year.

Many of the detainees are in their 20's and 30's. The cost of holding them for years or for life, either at Thomson or Guantanamo, is staggering.

If the 9/11 defendants are charged in federal court and the death penalty is sought, the trial and security may cost $100 million (New York's figure of $200 million for security alone is patently absurd), but the entire process, including appeals is likely to be three to five years. Once they are sentenced, they will go to Supermax at $60,000 per year. Incarcerating them at Thomson or Gitmo is vastly more expensive.

We don't need indefinite detention of non-charged terror suspects. For one thing, we can't afford it. To throw hundreds of millions of dollars into imprisoning 72 detainees who have not been cleared for release or set for trial is just crazy. Nor should we spend $110 million a year or $237 million (which includes operating expenses for only the first year) to house ten detainees (the five 9/11 detainees and the five designated for military tribunals.)

Try them in federal court. If convicted, our prison system, particularly Supermax at Florence in Colorado, is well-equipped to handle ten detainees from a security standpoint at a fraction of the cost.

The other 72, who while not cleared for release are not facing charges, need to be sent home. Since health care, social security, education and our economy are already in jeopardy, and we're going to continue to spend vast sums on airport security and wars in Afghanistan and who knows where else, we have to save somewhere.

It's very simple. Just say no to more prisons and indefinite detention. Say yes to closing Guantanamo. Amount saved in year one between Thomson and Gitmo: $350 million.

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    I prefer your approach (5.00 / 0) (#1)
    by ruffian on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 08:01:48 PM EST
    But if Obama wants to institute a "Gitmo Fund" to raise the $350 million a year I would not object. See how many people put their money where their mouth is.

    How do they justify the per detainee (none / 0) (#2)
    by Inspector Gadget on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 09:00:11 PM EST
    costs in either location? From all we've been told, there's certainly nothing upscale about Gitmo, so what is the money buying?

    For the money they claim is being spent on the Gitmo detainees, they should be living in the lap of luxury.

    I understand the cost of Thomson...it's some 10 times bigger than needed, so plenty of expenses would be incurred just in utilities and staff to guard even the unoccupied areas.