Report: U.S. taxpayers have spent at least $161.5 million protecting 9/11 mastermind since his capture – and that’s not all


GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA – United States taxpayers spend between $9.5 and $13 million per Guantanamo Bay prisoner per year, according to estimates from NPR and the New York Times.

This means that so far, the U.S. has spent at least $161.5 million on the likes of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, confessed mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks, since his capture and imprisonment in 2003.

By way of comparison, according to Fox News, only $78,000 is spent per inmate annually at the “supermax” prison in Florence, CO.

There are many reasons for the extraordinary costs for housing the 40 prisoners at Gitmo.

The logistics inherent in its island location play a large role.

In the United States, according to the New York Times, federal prisons employ civilians who provide their own transportation and live off the prison location, and are able to entertain themselves in their off hours.

This is not the case at isolated Guantanamo, where the Defense Department has military personnel covering the prison.  These personnel include not only guards who cover the prisoners, but also:

“a Coast Guard unit that patrols the waters below the cliff top prison zone; Navy doctors, nurses, psychological technicians and corpsmen; a unit of Air Force engineers; lawyers, chaplains, librarians, chaperones and military journalists. “

The Times adds:

“Each has layers of commanders who oversee their work and manage their lives at Guantánamo.”

According to Rear Admiral John Ring, the former prison commander, the annual per-troop cost comes to $108,000.  There are 1800 troops at the detention center, or 45 troops per prisoner.

Civilian contractors, which numbered 300 in 2014, are also employed at the prison, and have to be housed on base.

Legal counsel, judges, other court employees, as well as journalists, have very expensive access to the island’s detainees.

According to NPR, all must fly onto the island any time they need to attend a legal hearing.  In addition, attorneys are not allowed to speak with inmates by phone, so any time they need to speak with a client, they must fly in.

Flights to Gitmo are taxpayer-funded and government-chartered, and they have a round trip price tag of $185,000, while usually transporting only a few few passengers.  NPR reports Guantanamo Bay travel totals $6.5 million per year.

The cost for legal teams alone is staggering.  The Times notes that the cost of defense and prosecutorial teams totals nearly $60 million per year.

Some of that total is due to the expense of “learned counsel,” or “Pentagon-paid private lawyers specializing in death penalty cases.”

Each Gitmo prisoner who faces the death penalty is entitled to such representation, which can cost as much as $500,000 per year per attorney, according to NPR.

Expenses also keep mounting because the wheels of justice apparently turn slowly at Guantanamo Bay.

Marine Brigadier General John Baker, chief defense counsel for the Military Commissions Defense Organization, which defends Guantanamo prisoners, told NPR in 2019:

“People need to know the travesty that is Gitmo. 

“It’s beyond comprehension that it is 2019 and people that were accused of crimes that occurred in 2001, and captured in 2003, are nowhere near trial.”

In 2014, the head of the military court said that hearings were held in only 33 days during that year.  NPR calculated the hourly court cost to taxpayers that year to be $700,000.

Lawyers have told NPR that cases proceed “imperceptibly slowly.”  NPR goes on to report that “Guantánamo’s legal cases have been virtually deadlocked for years.”

One reason is an ongoing legal battle over whether the U.S. Constitution applies in war court.

Another reason is that there was a major setback in court proceedings after a military judge’s rulings dating back to November 2015 had to be erased.  The judge was overseeing a Guantanamo case at a time that he was found to be in conflict of interest, resulting in years of his decisions being overthrown.

The case of USS Cole Bomber al-Nashiri has been delayed after three of his attorneys quit after finding listening devices in an attorney-client meeting room.

One of al-Nashiri’s remaining attorneys told NPR:

“The degrees and permutation of chaos in these military commission proceedings is something that’s just unimaginable.”

He added:

“It’s something you couldn’t make up unless you were the writers for the show Veep or something like that.”

Guantanamo Bay’s tropical location, which is subject to wear and tear due to humidity, high winds, and occasional hurricanes, carries with it a large price tag as well.

For instance, the Times reports that between 2017 and 2019:

“the military hired contractors to do $15 million in repairs to the guards’ townhouses, a $14.5 million expansion of the war court compound, $1.5 million in repairs to the trooper clinic, more than $1 million renovating air conditioning and ventilation in the officers’ homes, $648,000 on erosion and climate control around the general population prison complex, $273,110 to replace a latrine near a now defunct kitchen and $47,690 to renovate the prison staff chapel.”

Of course, expenses also arise from feeding, housing, and accommodating the prisoners at the facility.

According to the Times:

“The 40 prisoners, all men, get halal food, access to satellite news and sports channels, workout equipment and PlayStations. Those who behave — and that has been the majority for years — get communal meals and can pray in groups, and some can attend art and horticulture classes.”

As such, says Captain Brian L. Mizer, Navy attorney responsible for the defense of detainees at the prison for several years, the facility is:

“America’s tiniest boutique prison, reserved exclusively for alleged geriatric jihadists.”

As for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the confessed terrorist looks to continue to live on the vast contributions of U.S. taxpayers for some unknown time longer.

Mohammed was originally scheduled for his death penalty trial January 11, 2021, but the proceedings have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It looks like defense attorney Michael Paradis was correct when he told NPR in 2019: 

“[Y]ou’re going to have the most expensive, most notorious old-folks home in the Caribbean that you’ve ever seen.”

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Another special-interest group comes knocking: Muslim advocate CAIR demands Biden defund counterterror program


WASHINGTON, DC – A Muslim civil liberties and advocacy group is calling on Joe Biden to defund the country’s counterterrorism program, claiming it is only a way for law enforcement to discriminate against Muslims. 

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which calls itself the largest such advocacy group in the nation, has demanded that Biden defund the Office for Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention within his first 100 days in office.  The program does not specifically target Muslims but rather, seeks to prevent all types of terrorism coming from all corners of the globe, including white supremacy in the United States.

Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, obtained a copy of the letter sent from CAIR to Biden. Hughes noted on Twitter:

“@CAIRNational puts out its 100 day agenda for new Administration. Calls for defunding countering violent extremism programs, opposing any proposed domestic terrorism statutes, and ‘end the FBI’s use of informants to spy on American Muslim communities.’ “

Hughes attached a copy of the letter that outlined CAIR’s demands on top of its desire to see the Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention office defunded.  The group also wishes to see Biden end the terrorism watchlist, end the Quiet Skies and Silent Partner program that tracks potential terrorists, reject any new domestic terrorism federal statutes, and the democratic favorite, shut down Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

CAIR demands the immediate release of those who are detained in Cuba, the majority of whom, if not all, are suspected terrorists.  The group wants those still in custody who have been cleared to be released be sent back to their home countries. It also demands that those who will remain in U.S. custody be sent into the United States and afforded due process given to those that are on U.S. soil.

CAIR not only listed its demands to Biden in the letter, but in a roundabout way, it attacked President Donald Trump and his administration’s policies.  The group also noted its displeasure with policies that were enacted before Trump and signed off on by former Presidents Barack Obama and George H.W. Bush. According to CAIR, both former presidents had a hand in “policies and programs that led to the discriminatory profiling and targeting of American Muslims by state and federal law enforcement.”

The group also wants Biden to address what they believe are human rights abuses of Muslims in other countries, like China, India and Burma.  How exactly they wish for him to hold sovereign countries responsible without warfare was not explained.

CAIR also noted that Biden should hold the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia accountable for the kidnapping and brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident and journalist. Khashoggi, a contributing columnist for the Washington Post, was murdered and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey in 2018.  There were rumors that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the heinous murder, a claim that he and the Saudi Arabian government have denied.

CAIR National Director Nihad Awad on Dec. 22 stated that he is hopeful Biden will listen to the group’s demands and change the way Muslims are treated in the United States.  He is fully expecting Biden to create new rules and policies specifically designed to protect the civil rights of Muslims. He said:

“CAIR believes that the Biden-Harris administration presents our nation with an opportunity not only to undo the damage caused by prior administrations – including policies and programs that led to the discriminatory profiling and targeting of American Muslims by state and federal law enforcement – but to adopt new initiatives that protect and respect the rights of everyone in our nation, including American Muslims.”

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