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Obama Plans $195 Million in Renovation and New Construction at Guantánamo


Matt Bewig
Intellihub

Despite his 2008 campaign promise to close the U.S. government’s detention center for suspected terrorists at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, President Barack Obama’s administration last week announced plans to spend $195 million on renovation and new construction there—strongly implying that the nation’s taxpayers can expect to pay to imprison the center’s 166 inmates, 86 of whom have been cleared of wrongdoing, for many years to come.

Initially, on Wednesday, General John F. Kelly, Commander of the U.S. Southern Command, requested $150 million to $170 million for renovations to the prison complex, including $99 million for two barracks facilities, $12 million for a new mess hall, and millions more for consolidating scattered legal, medical and communications facilities. He also made a cryptic reference to “other projects that I couldn’t talk about here in the open but do have to do with replacing one of the camp facilities where some of the detainees are—special detainees are housed.”

Pressed for details, Lt. Cmdr. Ron Flanders, a Southcom spokesman, admitted that Southcom also needed an additional $49 million to build a new building at Guantánamo for so-called “high-value” detainees like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described architect of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. That brings the total amount requested up to about $195.7 million, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

Human rights groups, which want the prison closed, reacted with frustration. “These are more U.S. taxpayer dollars being spent on the pointless and damaging policy of keeping Guantánamo open,”

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