Obama has been promising for years (since when he was first elected in 2009) to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Why, I ask? “It’s outdated and expensive,” he answers. And it provides an excuse for terrorists to declare Jihad on America.”
Let’s take the Jihad business first. Does anyone really believe that if we move the 100 or so prisoners still at Guantanamo Bay today (down from a high of around 800) to a new prison facility in the United States, ISIS or Al-Qaeda will say “Oh, never mind.” When we handed Iran $150 billion in connection with the nuclear agreement with Iran (the conditions under which Iran has yet to perform), did their Jihadists say “Oh, never mind”? All moving those 100 prisoners to the U.S. will do is give ISIS added incentive to implement an attack on mainland U.S. soil to break them out, if they don’t break lose on their own. Where would we house them in the U.S.? Down the street from where you live? I for one would rather see us fight any such fights at our remote GTMO facility in the modestly populated remote southeast coast of Cuba.
This brings us back to the question of cost. It’s estimated that it costs between $100 million and $150 million per year–or about $1million to $1.5 million per detainee per year–to keep them at GTMO. In contrast, the average cost per domestic prisoner in the U.S. is less than one-tenth of that. What explains this astronomical cost? For starters, with a lack of cooperation from Cuba, all food, water, and other supplies have to be shipped or flown to Guantanamo Bay. Legal counsel and proceedings for the various detainees requires lawyers and the like to be flown in. And we know what lawyers charge, door to door!
Clearly, this is not ideal. But what are the alternatives? The Pentagon just estimated $500 million to come up with a new stateside replacement facility. Based on unreliable government batting averages, cost overruns would probably bring that to more than $1 billion. That’s untenable. Just as it’s untenable to locate these detainees anywhere near American civilians. Most of our States don’t want a few Syrian refugees. They’re not likely to welcome these detainees with open arms. Especially, when the Administration says they are too dangerous to fly them back to their homes and turn them loose.
Note: If we spread the GTMO guests out in high security prisons around the country, the ones that house our most hardened American criminals, the problem might take care of itself. 🙂 (Yes, dear, I’m just kidding. Lighten up.)
So, what to do? Are we just “stuck,” which seems to all the folks in D.C. can come up with so far. No surprise there.
How about this? Find some hungry third world nation that needs some money and some jobs, construct your basic, no frills tilt up concrete facility of about 35,000 square feet (100 square foot cells per detainee and another 250 square feet of common area facilities per detainee, offices, medical facilities, guard housing, etc.) At $50 per square feet, that comes to, $1,750,000. Add some miscellaneous to the budget (you know, for large screen television sets, basketball courts, Jacuzzis, etc.), and call it an even $2 million. Don’t forget the land, say about ten acres. Let’s be generous. Figure $10,000 per acre, or about $100,000. And we need some infrastructure, a few roads in and out, water lines and utilities. In a third world nation, where labor is cheap and we’re not building a five-star resort, another couple million ought to be plenty. With additional reserves, let’s figure $5 million, “all in.”
How does that compare to the Pentagon’s $500 million estimate?
And the cost of operation per year in a cooperating country happy to create jobs? Can’t be more than the $100,000 per year we pay per prisoner in U.S. prisons whose guards and other employees are all union organized. So, that’s a wash with putting our guests somewhere on mainland United States.
Oh, wait a minute. I forgot about all of those lawyers, judges and retired judges. We’re still going to have to fly them half way around the world, and house and feed them. Really? Why? Haven’t they heard of FaceTime iPhones and GoToMyPC apps? Corporate America has used technology to dramatically reduce travel and hotel costs. If it works for them, why not for these detainees. Do you know of anything in our Constitution that requires lawyers and judges within arm’s reach (risky as that might me)? I can’t see why shouting distance isn’t good enough.
Okay, so I’m being a bit tongue in cheek and no doubt overlooking some points here and there. But you get my point. We don’t need to turn these people loose. We don’t need to house them on mainland U.S.A. And we don’t have to spend $500 million to build them some fancy resort or continue paying $100 million per year to keep them comfortable.
And here’s another thought when we’re looking for the right third world nation. How about Cuba? Can’t they use some jobs? We already own GTMO; we can just give it to the Cubans. Now that we’re in a mutual admiration society with Cuba, why don’t we just sub out the job to the Cubans? Wouldn’t they take it on for the same $100,000 per detainee per year that it costs us in the U.S.? That’s $10 million per year and a bunch of jobs. Why not? And when our guests are . . . depleted, the Cubans can just turn the place into a seaside resort for the wealthy. More revenue, and more jobs, for Cuba.
Like I said, either I’m crazy or the folks in D.C. are. Or we both are. But, at a minimum, they are. Seems like we’ve let one set of inmates run wild in the course of making sure that another set of inmates don’t.
Join the discussion either by logging in just below or by signing into your favorite social media outlet. If you’re having trouble, please follow these instructions to guide you! Thanks!