This morning, Feb. 23, 2016, Pres. Barack Obama addressed the nation regarding the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. As per his promise when he was inaugurated seven years ago, he is putting forth a final and comprehensive plan to permanently close Gitmo. He has submitted his plan to Congress.
President Obama stood shoulder to shoulder with Vice-President Joe Biden and his Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter for the announcement. “The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay does not advance our national security, it undermines it,” the president said.
The prison, which currently houses 91 of the world’s most dangerous prisoners housed 105 just last month. Since then, 14 detainees have been relocated to countries who are working with the United States and who are willing to take responsibility for these criminals. The last prisoner released was sent to the Government of Montenegro. Other countries who have accepted the terrorists from Guantanamo Bay are the Government of Ghana, the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Government of Oman, and the Sultanate of Oman.
The costs to maintain Gitmo prisoners are astronomically high and rising. The United States taxpayers spend nearly $3 million per year, per prisoner to keep the detention center open. Last year’s estimate on operational costs of the facility rang in around $454 million, including salaries for troops and facilities’ costs.
Interestingly, although the President is closing the Guantanamo facility, Congress, in 2014, authorized $65 million for a new school on base. The school, to be utilized for the U.S. service personnel’s children, is designed to accommodate 275 students, kindergarten through high school, making the cost for each student nearly $250,000.
With information directly from the President’s mouth today, the prison will be closed and presumably the school will be closed as well. It remains to be seen what will actually happen the physical real estate where the prison is located. President Obama made no mention of returning the land back to the still communist nation of Cuba.
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