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US has spent $161M+ taxpayer funds holding 9/11 mastermind at Gitmo, report says

The U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (Walter Michot/Miami Herald/TNS)
February 01, 2021

United States taxpayers have spent roughly $161.5 million to keep terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed alive in Guantanamo Bay since his detainment 17 years ago, and he has yet to face trial.

Citing figures from a 2019 NPR report, Fox News found that between $9.5 and $13 million is spent per prisoner each year in Guantanamo Bay. Over 17 years, the cost to detain Sheikh Mohammed now ranges between $161.5 million and $221 million.

The cost has jumped throughout the years, with a 2013 Defense Department report finding the per-prisoner detention cost was just $2.7 million. In comparison, $78,000 is spent annually per prisoner at a “supermax” prison in Colorado, which holds a number of the highest-risk inmates in the country.

Established 18 years ago, Guantanamo has cost American taxpayers more than $6 billion since it was created. The figure includes charter planes to and from the island, DoD-funded defense attorneys costing half a million each year, and legal costs topping $60 million. Guantanamo has only had one completed conviction.   

Sheikh Mohammad, one of 40 prisoners at Guantanamo, confessed to masterminding the 9/11 terrorist attacks after being captured in 2003. His death penalty trial was supposed to take place on Jan. 11, 2021, but was delayed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to difficulty moving trials forward in the face of the pandemic, Terry Adirim, the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, had ordered suspected terrorists to receive vaccinations, the New York Post reported. On Saturday, Defense Department Press Secretary John Kirby announced that the administration stopped the plan.

“No Guantanamo detainees have been vaccinated,” Kirby tweeted. “We’re pausing the plan to move forward, as we review force protection protocols.  We remain committed to our obligations to keep our troops safe.”

According to Fox News, about 770 men and boys have been held as wartime prisoners at Guantanamo, with the most recent inmate to arrive in 2008. The prison’s population peaked in 2003 with 677.

Over 500 detainees were released by the Bush administration, often repatriating the individuals back to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. The Obama administration also released 200 prisoners.

When asked why the Obama administration didn’t shut down Guantanamo, President Biden said, “You have to have congressional authority to do it. They’ve kept it open. We, in fact, think … it is an advertisement for creating terror.”