If Republicans want to reduce the budget, then closing Guantanamo would be the perfect place to start. But they’re still fighting President Obama’s efforts to close the prison.
The Pentagon estimates it spends about $150 million each year to operate the prison and military court system at the U.S. Naval Base in Cuba, which was set up 11 years ago to house foreign terrorism suspects. With 166 inmates currently in custody, that amounts to an annual cost of $903,614 per prisoner.
By comparison, super-maximum security prisons in the United States spend about $60,000 to $70,000 at most to house their inmates, analysts say. And the average cost across all federal prisons is about $30,000, they say.
The high cost was just one reason Obama cited when he returned this week to an unfulfilled promise to close the prison and said he would try again. Obama also said that the prison, set up under his Republican predecessor George W. Bush and long the target of criticism by rights groups and foreign governments, is a stain on the reputation of the United States.
Programs like Head Start and Meals on Wheels are being slashed because Republicans refused to end the self imposed Sequester, while we are flushing money down the drain in Guantanamo.
It would seem that closing the prison would be the smart and ideal thing to do, but doing so would fulfill one of Obama’s campaign promises, and that is simply not acceptable to the “deficit Hawks” in the Republican party.
So we continue. Wasting millions in Cuba, while precious services that protect children and poor people here in America, get slashed.