Gitmo costs $13 million per prisoner

The NYT took a rare breather from its study of Donald Trump and calculated that U.S. taxpayers spend $13 million per prisoner per year at Guantánamo Bay (story):

The 40 prisoners, all men, get halal food, access to satellite news and sports channels, workout equipment and PlayStations. Those who behave — and that has been the majority for years — get communal meals and can pray in groups, and some can attend art and horticulture classes.

The prison’s uniformed staff members also include a Coast Guard unit that patrols the waters below the cliff top prison zone; Navy doctors, nurses, psychological technicians and corpsmen; a unit of Air Force engineers; lawyers, chaplains, librarians, chaperones and military journalists. Each has layers of commanders who oversee their work and manage their lives at Guantánamo.

In 2018, Congress approved spending $115 million on a dormitory-style barracks complex to replace trailer housing for 848 troops. But no contract has been awarded, construction has not yet begun and Navy spokesmen could not provide the target completion date.

So there are at least 848 troops to guard 40 prisoners?

Readers: What’s a good comparison for this $13 million/year cost? A high-end hotel in Havana is about $150/night or $54,750 per year. Add another $45k for room service and each prisoner is costing the equivalent of 130 hotel rooms with food.

[Separately, how can the NYT know that the 40 prisoners are “all men” unless the reporters have recently queried each one regarding his/her/zir/their current gender ID. Is the NYT making cisgender-normative assumptions?]

19 thoughts on “Gitmo costs $13 million per prisoner

  1. > What’s a good comparison for this $13M/year cost?

    $70M for each of the 12,000 taliban killed in Afghanistan since 2001 (total cost: $840B)? The military is still spending $50B/year to fight 60,000 taliban in a country whose entire GDP is only $20B ($540/year per capita).

    • So what? They were able to fly a plane into the WTC and kill 3,000 people on US soil including around 400 police and firefighters. What are their lives worth? — since you seem to be good at arithmetic. Do you think they would do it again?

    • Jack provides a great example of how such costs skyrocket: It is shameful to even question them.
      For those who question: They will find you and they will shame you!

      Now give them the tax money and sit in the corner.

    • Also the Taliban did not plan or carry out 9/11. Most of the actual hijackers were Saudi, planned by a Yemeni and Pakistani.

      Pakistan also sheltered OBL, but I guess that’s fine.

      “Do you think they would do it again?” – Well they can’t, because A) the hijackers all died, and B) the U.S. adopted basic security protocols like locking / reinforced cockpit doors.

      ( Don’t forget to tack on the >$2.4T + gratuity for the Iraq War )

    • Jack, what comes out the other side of your mouth? I’ll take a guess: the government is wasteful and inefficient? Taxation is theft? Am I close? Since you’re keen to recite American causalities, let’s not forget the 6,700+ American soldiers who’ve died in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11. Or, the 52,000+ wounded. But, how dare anyone question the cost of these wars.

  2. Just stop. It is maddening to try value engineering TheWarOnTerror ™. The cost is nauseating and the unexamined alternatives for the money are just too depressing.

    If it has taught me anything, it is the government will never run out of money.

  3. Who is arguing that the death penalty is too expensive now? I think the defense of a death row inmate is 2-4 million. In prior centuries, the sentence was carried out right after initial sentencing (no appeal) and the cost was a rope or bullet. Your tax dollars at work, and the reason we are 23rd in education.

    • Adding on, these are enemy combatants, soldiers who should have died gruesome and merciless deaths on the battlefield. We should have cut off their heads the way the extreme Islam radical do our people. War is horrible, but necessary, and those who use extreme violence to carry out terror should be treated exactly as they would treat us as infidels. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a head for a head. They should die gruesome horrible public deaths that show our power as a nation to carry out swift and final justice. What we have done with these terrorists is a bleeping joke, and I’m sure, given the chance, there are literally thousands of New Yorkers and Americans who would immediately, without hesitation, carry out this sentence.

    • How can the “prisoners” of illegitimate wars be legitimate? As someone else pointed out, exactly none of the hijackers were Iraqi or Afghan. They were mostly Saudi. The current Republican pied piper is presently standing up for the Saudis, just as he did when they sawed up a journalist. Why can’t the Saudi’s, with the third largest military spending, defend themselves? Because it’s a great excuse to bully Iran. The hypocrisy is truly boundless.

  4. Defense contractor Raytheon has put bread on the table for four generations of my family. My 90 y/o grandmother is still collecting the Raytheon pension check from my deceased grandfather and he died 30 years ago.

  5. Calling for the gruesome murder of innocents – totally fine.

    Calling the person who does so a moron – censored by moderators.

    Sums up this message forum pretty well!

    • The folks above who are suggesting a simplified process are not proposing the murder of people whom they consider to be “innocent,” as I read their comments. They seem to believe that the U.S. has accurately identified the people currently held in Gitmo as non-innocent, e.g., “terrorists” or irregular combatants in any case, and therefore should dispense with the show trials and other procedural trappings.

      They might be wrong in their belief that the U.S. can correctly identify its enemies, but I wouldn’t say that it is helpful to call anyone a “moron”. https://philip.greenspun.com/blog/comment-moderation-policy/ suggests that it is more helpful to other readers to say “My opinion is …” rather than “The commenter above is a moron.”

      (I personally don’t support any of our current wars and therefore don’t have a considered opinion on the topic of how prisoners of those wars should be handled.)

    • In my opinion, saying “We should have cut off their heads the way the extreme Islam radical do our people.” is advocating war crimes.

      Even the U.S. Government does not claim many Gitmo residents are guilty of any crimes. Merely that they’re stateless and have nowhere they can legally release these prisoners, because Republicans in Congress refuse to allow these innocents entry to the U.S.

  6. Looks more and more like they won. Trump ought to embrace them, award a ceremonial dagger, and send them home on AF1. Let them fly it since they never learned to land.

  7. The real madness is that if these prisoners had been taken to the US and tried in the civilian justice system they would have been found guilty and sentenced many years ago. Instead, the military commissions are in their third incarnation of farce after 17 years of careening from one legal disaster to another.

    A trial date of 2021 is now finally set for the five 9/11 planners: just in time for the *twentieth* anniversary of the attacks. Even after that trial the cases will inevitably end up going through endless appeals through the Court of Military Commissions Review, the DC Circuit, and eventually the Supreme Court. Once all the appeals are exhausted, perhaps, 25 years after the attacks, the defendants will be on their way to dying of old age.

    The uncertain legal footing of the military commissions means their convictions may well be overturned on appeal as has happened in 6 of the 8 convictions that have been secured so far.

    I would think that Americans of all political persuasions could find a reason to be outraged by this state of affairs – the incredible cost of the proceedings and of running Gitmo, the human rights issues, the pointless nature of this circumvention of US civilian criminal law, and/or the complete failure to secure timely convictions for those who were responsible for the 9/11 attacks. None of this is much discussed in the media these days so I think few people know just how crazy the situation is.

    • Why stop at Taliban soldiers from Afghanistan? We could bring many foreign terrorists and criminal to try in the US justice system. By the way, Guantanamo is US military base and has US troops presence disregarding whether there are any prisoners there or not.
      I think bolshevic communist democratic presidential candidates can start promising retired Americans medical care same as for Taliban held at Guantanamo, 2 medical personal per prison, just omit that it was menshevic G.W. Bush idea. I know that if bolshevic democrat takes power he/she would save money by sending everyone to medicare Siberia.

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