What We Spend on Each Gitmo Inmate a Year: $900K

High price could help Obama argue for closure

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted May 5, 2013 2:10 PM CDT

(Newser) – Obama once again promised to close Guantanamo Bay last week, citing its high operating cost as a factor. Just how high? $150 million a year—or $900,000 per inmate. That's compared to $60,000 to $70,000 for an inmate in a super-max prison. And military officials are now saying they need $170 million more to improve the living conditions for troops stationed at the camp. But with the sequester cutting into so many other government services, the high sticker price of Gitmo could actually be the ace up Obama's sleeve in convincing his opponents in Congress to finally shut the facility down, Reuters reports.

The costs of a single Guantanamo inmate could keep public tours of the White House running for 12 weeks. Or fund Meals on Wheels in seven states. Both have had budgets slashed by sequestration. But critics say it's too dangerous to risk until a better alternative is proposed. "Such a plan ... must include a proposal for what to do with the detainees at Guantanamo who are too dangerous to release and whom we are not able to prosecute," House Armed Services Committee Chair Buck McKeon wrote in an op-ed for USA Today this week. "Until a better solution is offered, at Guantanamo they must stay."

A US flag waves above the the Camp Justice compound at Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base in Cuba.   (AP Photo/Toronto Star, Michelle Shephard, Pool)
A detainee shields his face as he peers out through the so-called "bean hole" which is used to pass food and other items into detainee cells at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)
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