New number-crunching by Democrats campaigning for Guantanamo's closure says the Pentagon spends nearly a half-billion dollars a year, or $2.7 million per prisoner, to operate its prison complex in Cuba.
The cost for this year — $454.1 million — comes from a report by the Defense Department's Office of the Comptroller. It was 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 $5.2 billion by the end of 2014.
The total costs, however, are likely higher. For example, 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.
The comptroller figures first surfaced last week at a subcommittee hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee called by Dick Durbin, D-Ill., a longtime advocate of closure. "Do the math: 166 prisoners, $454 million. We are spending $2.7 million per year for each detainee held at Guantanamo Bay," he said. "What does it cost to put a prisoner and keep them in the safest and most secure prison in America in Florence, Colo.? $78,000 a year against $2.7 million that we're spending in Guantanamo."