FEATURED:

DOD: Gitmo costs in 2013 to top $450M

The cost to run the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay in 2013 is $454 million — a figure significantly higher than previous estimates, according to a new Pentagon assessment.

The newest price tag, which was sent to the House Armed Services Committee by Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelIntel chief: Federal debt poses 'dire threat' to national security Hagel: Trump is 'an embarrassment' Tax cut complete, hawks push for military increase MORE, will fuel Democratic arguments that Guantánamo is too expensive to continue holding detainees.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinLawmakers feel pressure on guns Feinstein: Trump must urge GOP to pass bump stock ban Florida lawmakers reject motion to consider bill that would ban assault rifles MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinAmerica’s waning commitment to the promise of the First Amendment Senate rejects Trump immigration plan What to watch for in the Senate immigration votes MORE (D-Ill.) announced the new cost assessment at a Senate hearing to examine closing the prison, held to ramp up congressional support for shuttering the facility.

“This is a massive waste of money,” Feinstein said.

ADVERTISEMENT
Hagel sent Rep. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithTop Armed Services Dem hits Trump on military budget Pentagon budget euphoria could be short-lived Top admiral: North Korea wants to reunify peninsula, not protect rule MORE (D-Wash.), the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, the three-page Pentagon assessment that outlined costs to run Guantánamo over the past decade.

The assessment, obtained by The Hill, said that the U.S. government has spent $4.7 billion to run the prison since 2002.

Smith and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) appeared in the upper chamber Wednesday to testify at the Senate's Guantánamo hearing.

Wednesday’s Judiciary subcommittee hearing, chaired by Durbin, is the first congressional hearing on closing the prison since 2009, when President Obama first pledged to close Guantánamo.

Obama vowed to revamp White House efforts to close the facility this year, and said he would resume detainee transfers to third countries.

But there remains congressional opposition to moving detainees out of the facility, and there have been multiple votes this year where lawmakers voted to prevent moving detainees onto U.S. soil or to Yemen, one of the countries where Obama wants to restart transfers.

Both Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyGrassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees Popular bill to fight drug prices left out of budget deal Judiciary Dems want public hearings with Kushner, Trump Jr. MORE (D-Vt.) and Feinstein joined Wednesday’s subcommittee hearing to express their opposition to keeping the prison open.

“For over a decade, the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantánamo has contradicted our most basic principles of justice, degraded our international standing and, by itself, has harmed our national security,” Leahy said. “It is shameful that we are still debating this issue.”

Hitting on the cost issue, Durbin said that it would be much cheaper to hold Guantánamo prisoners in a federal supermax prison, saying the cost was $78,000 per prisoner at a supermax facility compared to $2.7 million per detainee at Guantánamo.

"This would be fiscally irresponsible during normal economic times, but it is even worse when the Defense Department is struggling to deal with the impact of sequestration," Durbin said in his opening statement.

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day HHS official put on leave amid probe into social media posts Trump, Pence to address CPAC this week MORE (R-Texas), the ranking member on the Judiciary subcommittee, defended Guantánamo, saying there was no alternative for keeping the terrorists who are held there.

“Until we are presented with a good viable strategy for what to do with terrorists who would work night and day to murder innocent Americans, I have a hard time seeing how it is responsible to shut down our detention facilities and send these individuals home, where they almost surely would be released and almost surely would return to threaten and kill more Americans,” Cruz said.