An American flag is seen through the war crimes courtroom at the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay on Oct. 17, 2012.
Michelle Shepard/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The U.S. military court and prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have cost more than $6 billion to operate since opening nearly 18 years ago and still churn through more than $380 million a year despite housing only 40 prisoners today.
Included in that amount are taxpayer-funded charter planes often flying just a few passengers to and from the island; hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of government electronic devices intentionally destroyed each year due to spills of classified information; some Pentagon-funded defense attorneys billing about half-a-million dollars a year; and total legal costs of nearly $60 million annually even though Guantánamo has had only one finalized conviction.
Such complaints are not new. Five years ago, the head of the military court at the time complained that the process was going too slowly and noted that hearings had been held only 33 days in all of 2014. That cost taxpayers the equivalent of $700,000 an hour.
Criticism of that spending comes even from inside Guantánamo. A former top attorney there has filed a federal whistleblower complaint alleging “gross financial waste” and “gross mismanagement,” NPR has learned.