How injustice can become a hundred times more expensive

Cost of Guantanamo BayGuantanamo Bay has become a testament to those aspects of the American “War on Terror” that are often hidden from the eyes of the public. Systematic abuses of human rights as well as an unadulterated waste of taxpayer dollars thoroughly characterize this place.

Guantanamo was originally the name given to the bay by its indigenous Taino inhabitants. After the late 19th century the bay was taken over as a US military base. After the events of 9/11, the famous Guantanamo Bay detainment camp was established in 2002 by the Bush administration to house those individuals, captured in the war on terror, deemed “too dangerous” to be housed in a regular prison complex.

These detainees are not even necessarily charged with crimes, they are simply being “detained” so as to prevent any possible terrorist activity. Certainly the probability exists from quite a few of these people to commit atrocities, however this does not, at least in itself, justify separate atrocities and abuses done to them at the hands of their American captors.

Today, the Guantanamo Bay prison facility spends close to $3,000,000 annually per prisoner. In contrast, maximum security prisons spend around $30,000-$70,000 per inmate. This may, indeed, represent an oversight on the part of the past Bush administration.

Spending exorbitant sums in the pursuit of both containing these individuals and attempting to torture information out of them through practices like water boarding and systematic sleep deprivation only serves to weaken the moral authority of the United States (whatever that actually represents in the modern day and age) as well as to drain the public coffers.

Osama Bin Laden wished to drain the United States of its financial resources overseas. In light of this, would it not make sense that the Guantanamo Bay facility has played directly into his prophecy? The war on terror has created an entire universe that did not exist before.

Years ago, the Obama Administration made a pledge to close the containment facility, however a non-participatory Congressional body only served to stall out the plans. The pledge had originally been to “close” the facility by the year 2010, obviously that future has not occurred.

Cost of Guantanamo BayKen Gude, Chief of Staff and Vice President at the Center for American Progress stated of the facility that it is “extremely inefficient.” Gude continued to state that “That … may be what finally gets us to actually close the prison. I mean the costs are astronomical, when you compare them to what it would cost to detain somebody in the United States.”

In the interests of prudent stewardship of public funds it may be valuable to seriously consider the option of moving these detained individuals to maximum security prisons within the United States. Undoubtedly many conservatives and political moderates alike will argue that this only puts US citizens at more risk of being exposed to danger.

Truthfully these concerns do hold some weight. An escape from even a maximum security facility on American soil would most likely be easier than a comparable effort at a US military base on the island of Cuba. On the flip side it is becoming increasingly clear that the Guantanamo bay facility cannot be maintained for the long term. With this in mind, alternatives must necessarily be considered. Those alternatives are limited, however. It seems as if the Guantanamo Bay detainees either must be released (a tenuous position) or moved somewhere else. This “somewhere” would obviously be a maximum security prison facility (or several such facilities) within the borders of the US.

Progressives believe in the freedom and dignity of all human beings. When certain individuals are deemed to have violated the social contract, likewise certain social consequences do come about as a result. These generally consist in various punishments such as imprisonment. The Guantanamo Bay facility, however, also houses individuals sometimes illegally and often without proper representation (not to mention the less than kosher methods of interrogation employed by US officials). Add to this the extravagant expenses involved in keeping individuals at the facility and one is given a fairly compelling reason to opt for a change of location for those housed within Guantanamo’s walls.


  1. Whens the last time anyone heard of someone escaping from Leavenworth or some other Federal Prison. Makes me wonder who is profiting from the extra $970,000 per prisoner.

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