Trump says cost of running Guantánamo is ‘crazy’

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ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE — President Trump on Wednesday expressed unease over the cost of detaining prisoners at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base and said that his administration is reviewing the matter.

“I think it’s crazy. It costs a fortune to operate it and I think it’s crazy,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One while returning to Washington, D.C., from California.

The New York Times reported earlier this week that it cost more than $540 million — roughly $13 million per detainee — to keep the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, running last year. The facility currently holds 40 prisoners, including suspects in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.{mosads}

When asked about the cost Wednesday, Trump said, “we’re looking into that.”

Trump has previously been an advocate for keeping the prison open, at one point during the campaign pledging to fill the prison with “some bad dudes.”

It was unclear from his comments Wednesday whether Trump has shifted his stance. When asked whether he was looking at potentially closing Guantánamo, Trump replied, “We’re looking at a lot of things.”

He also launched into a criticism of his predecessor, Barack Obama, noting that the former Democratic president pledged to close Guantánamo, but never fulfilled that goal.

“He was going to have everybody removed and Guantánamo Bay closed up by the time he left office and he didn’t do that. He didn’t do that either,” Trump told reporters. “So we’re stuck with it.”

Trump said the immediate challenge is determining what to do with ISIS fighters from Europe that the United States captured in Iraq and Syria and are being held elsewhere.

“The big decision we have now is we have thousands of people. They came from other countries. We want those countries to take them back. We did them a big favor by stopping them,” Trump said.

The president also repeated his desire to send captured fighters back to the countries in Europe they are from.

“If they came from France, we want France to take them and to try them and to do whatever they have to do with them, but that’s a very expensive situation,” Trump said.

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