Guantanamo Closure Plan Set For Congress
The Pentagon’s long-awaited plan to shut down Guantanamo Bay and transfer detainees to a facility in the US is set to be delivered to Congress.
The plan calls for up to $475m (£336m) in construction costs and is the administration’s last-ditch attempt to honour Barack Obama’s campaign vow to close the detention centre in Cuba.
Speaking on Tuesday, the US President said the centre undermines US national security and is counterproductive to the fight against terrorism because it is used as propaganda to recruit terrorists.
He said: “When it becomes clear that something is not working as intended, when it does not advance our security, we have to change course.
“For many years, it’s been clear that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay does not advance our national security. It undermines it.
“It’s counter-productive to our fight against terrorists, because they use it as propaganda in their efforts to recruit.
“It drains military resources, with nearly $450m (£319m) spent last year alone to keep it running, and more than $200m (£142m) in additional costs to keep it open going forward for less than 100 detainees.”
The plans are likely to further antagonise members of Congress who have repeatedly passed legislation banning attempts to move detainees to the US.
Officials have said the plan considers 13 different locations in the US, including seven existing prison facilities as well as six other locations on current military bases.
The plan does not recommend a preferred site.
More detailed spending figures, which are considered classified, will be provided to Congress.
The facilities reviewed by a Pentagon assessment team last year include:
:: US Disciplinary Barracks and Midwest Joint Regional Corrections Facility, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
:: Consolidated Naval Brig, Charleston, South Carolina
:: Federal Correctional Complex, Florence, Colorado
According to officials, the US facilities would cost between $265m (£187m) and $305m (£216m) per year to operate.
Guantanamo has an annual operating cost of $445m (£315m), but officials say it would need around $225m (£159m) in repairs and construction costs to continue being used.
Costs of between $290m (£205m) and $475m (£336m) would be needed for construction at the various US sites.
Last year, US officials said Pentagon assessments suggested the Centennial Correctional Facility in Colorado is a more suitable site to send detainees who should never be released.
Members of Congress for South Carolina, Kansas and Colorado have voiced opposition to housing detainees.
But critics warn moving al Qaeda-linked detainees to the US could create security concerns.
There are currently 91 detainees in Guantanamo Bay – 35 are expected to be transferred by this summer.
The remainder face trial by military commission or have been determined as too dangerous to be released, but are not facing charges.
At its peak in 2003, Guantanamo held nearly 680 detainees.