Guantanamo tab $5.2 billion and counting

Carol Rosenberg reports: New number-crunching by Democrats campaigning for Guantanamo’s closure says the Pentagon spends nearly a half-billion dollars a year – a whopping $2.7 million per prisoner – to operate its offshore prison complex in southeast Cuba.

The figure is by far the largest per-prisoner cost ever calculated and apparently, for the first time, includes troop costs. The ostensibly temporary Pentagon prison has, since it opened in 2002, been staffed largely by troops trained up on their way to Guantanamo for rotations of nine months to a year.

The cost for this year – $454.1 million to operate, staff and build at the prison complex – comes from a report by the Defense Department’s Office of the Comptroller.

It was first provided to Congress on June 27 by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and made public last week.

The report says the Pentagon will have spent $5.242 billion by the end of 2014.

The total costs, however, are likely higher. The accounting does not appear to include the prison camps’ state-of-the-art headquarters, built in 2004 for $13.5 million, or a secret lockup for ex-CIA prisoners, called Camp 7, the price tag of which is considered classified.

In addition, the Justice Department and FBI have devoted staff to detainee operations, and probably the CIA.

At Guantanamo, the prison camps spokesman, Navy Capt. Robert Durand, said the $2.7 million-per-prisoner figure apparently represents “fully loaded costs” of maintaining what is today a 2,000-strong staff at the sprawling detention center zone where 166 captives are confined to seven different lockups – including the hospital and psychiatric wards. [Continue reading…]

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