Wasted Opportunities: The Cost of Detention Operations at Guantánamo Bay

[Last updated on February 2, 2017]

The ACLU has repeatedly stated that the prison at Guantánamo Bay is an affront to American values and the rule of law. But we have also learned – thanks to a report by former Defense Secretary Hagel – that detention at Guantánamo breaks the budget as much as it is wrong. This unnecessary and wasteful spending comes at a time when budgets are shrinking and even the most vital programs for veterans, service members, and their families are subject to painful cuts.

The injustice of Guantánamo is costing us a fortune. Here's how that money could be better spent.

The ACLU has repeatedly stated that the prison at Guantánamo Bay is an affront to American values and the rule of law. But only recently have we learned – thanks to a report by Defense Secretary Hagel – that detention at Guantánamo breaks the budget as much as it is wrong. In fact, maintaining the prison at Guantánamo has cost the American taxpayer $4.8 billion since it opened in 2002, and an average of $454 million every year for the last five years. This unnecessary and wasteful spending comes at a time when budgets are shrinking and even the most vital programs for veterans, service members, and their families are subject to painful cuts.

The injustice of Guantánamo is costing us a fortune. Here's how that money could be better spent.

In 2013, American taxpayers spent $454 million detention operations at Guantanamo Bay, which now holds 41 detainees. That's roughly $11 million per detainee.

By moving detainees – 5 of whom have already been cleared for transfer – out of Guantanamo, the military could use the savings to improve the lives of service members and their families.

Here are some examples of how:

By transferring 2 detainees, the pentagon could eliminate health care fee increases for newly-enlisted military staff and their families this year.

By transferring 8 detainees, the Pentagon would not have to raise medical co-pay increases for military staff and their families by 1 cent this year.

By transferring 10 detainees, the department of Veterans Affairs could fully fund the Veteran's Employment Program, which assists veterans during their transition to civilian life.

By transferring 9 detainees, the Pentagon could cover more than half of the entire military's 2013 body armor budget.

If we were to eliminate all detention operations completely the Department of Veteran Affairs could fund almost 80% of its prosthetics research for a year.

15 years. 41 prisoners remaining. $4.8+ billion in waste.

Close Gitmo now.

Learn more, visit: www.aclu.org/gitmo

Sources
1. Office of Management and Budget, military staff health care costs
2. Department of Veterans Affairs, medical programs budget
3. Department of Defense, Operation and Maintenance Overview
4. Department of Veterans Affairs, budget "fast facts"
5. Secretary of Defense, costs of detention operations at Guantánamo Bay

Learn More
$600 Million and Counting: GTMO's Military Commissions
The Guantánamo Money Pit

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