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Judicial Watch • Guantanamo’s $500 Million Renovation

Guantanamo’s $500 Million Renovation

Guantanamo’s $500 Million Renovation

JUNE 07, 2010


As part of its war-on-terror spending, the U.S. government has dished out at least $500 million to transform Guantanamo Bay from a dilapidated Caribbean military base to an upscale resort-like town with professional sports fields, cafes, bars, eateries and fancy signs.

Details of the Pentagon’s frivolous spending spree are revealed in an investigative newspaper report as the Obama Administration prepares to close the military prison that has housed Islamic terrorists since 2002. Not surprisingly, a politically-connected company (Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton) with close ties to former Vice President Dick Cheney has benefitted handsomely from the renovation which also includes hefty construction bonuses that usually add up to millions more.

The spending has continued even after President Obama announced the prison would close and even though the number of detainees has dwindled substantially, from 680 in 2003 to 181. In fact, one new building—a headquarters for detention operations—was completed three months after Obama ordered Guantanamo Bay closed. It cost $690,000. The Pentagon also spent $26 million to construct an eight-mile stretch of road along the naval station’s border with Cuba, $18.2 million on a prison hospital, $2.9 million for a psychiatric ward and $2.2 million to transform military-style barracks into a modern hotel for visitors.

While some of these expenditures may seem justified, others are highly questionable. For instance, $7.3 million went to build professional, artificial-turf football and baseball fields for military personnel and contractors on the base, $3.5 million for a few dozen playgrounds that are rarely used, nearly $300,000 on a go-kart track, $249,000 to refurbish an abandoned volleyball court, $164,000 for a skate park, $97,000 on a roller-hockey rink and $80,000 for batting and soccer cages.

A café that sells ice cream and coffee got a $700,000 makeover and an old cinder block structure got a $773,000 renovation so it could house two fast-food eateries. Next on the makeover list is a highly popular Irish pub that’s scheduled to be expanded for a yet-to-be-determined amount of war-on-terror funds.

The base’s $500 million facelift doesn’t even include the annual $150 million operating cost—double the amount of a comparable U.S. prison—or a top-secret camp for high-value detainees and a new court complex that was custom designed for Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Adding those figures could easily bring the Guantanamo Bay renovation tab to $2 billion, according to the news report that broke the story.


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