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Does Guantanamo Bay cost as much as Obama says it does?
Obama's plan to close Guantanamo Bay has seen sharp criticism due to the national security risks it may pose. Obama says closing the detention center will save as much as $450 million annually, but does Gitmo really cost as much as he says it does? - photo by Sam Turner
President Obama fell under heavy fire since he announced his plan last month to close the most expensive prison in the world.

Last week a bill was introduced by the senate that would prevent the President from modifying, terminating, abandoning or transferring the lease for Guantanamo Bay without the authorization of Congress.

While Obama's reasons for shutting down the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay are largely founded in counter-terrorism and foreign relations, the prison's enormous operations cost is another one of his talking points.

"It's really expensive," said Obama in an interview reported by ABC News.

"It drains military resources, with nearly $450 million spent last year alone to keep it running, and nearly $200 million in additional costs needed to keep it open going forward, for less than 100 detainees."

Obama's proposal to close Guantanamo Bay has been met with criticism by many for ignoring national security risks in order to push his own political agenda.

Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, noted that transferring Guantanamo Bay detainees to American soil is illegal under current law.

"This is against the law," said Ryan. "The president's own attorney general agrees it is against the law. The president's own defense secretary agrees it is against the law. If the president takes illegal action, we will be ready to respond."

But besides the risks to national security that closing Guantanamo Bay would allegedly spawn, some have even criticized the financial benefits of closing the detention facility.

Politifact confirms that Obama's claims about the costs of Guantanamo Bay are correct, and that is costs almost $3 million per detainee each year. To put this in perspective, it's almost 100 times the cost of the average federal prisoner, says Politifact.

Still, many discount shutting down Guantanamo Bay for economic reasons, either doubting that the savings would add up to Obama's claim, or comparing the cost of the detention facility to greater national expenditures and deficits.

Former Pentagon spokesman, J.D. Gordon, even claims that the President may be keeping costs at Guantanamo Bay high intentionally, in order to preserve the "too expensive" argument.

Even though the number of detainees at Guantanamo Bay has decreased from 779 to 122, said Gordon in his 2015 editorial for the Washington Times, the number of staff employed has not shrunk and neither have the costs.

"If 2,000 troops could guard and care for 779 detainees, then 300 logically ought to be able to handle 122. Does each detainee really need his own personal doctor and military lawyer? Cant they share?" said Gordon.

Gordon visited the detention center many times as a part of his duties as Pentagon spokesman and he reports some of the excessive costs, including a $750,000 detainee soccer field.

"The bloated costs at Gitmo are highly misleading and amount to a self-inflicted wound that Mr. Obama has forced upon the American taxpayer. This strategy is designed to apply maximum political pressure against those who support keeping Gitmo open."

Included in Obama's plan for closing Guantanamo Bay were possible relocation sites on American soil, like the federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, and the military prison in Leavenworth, Kansas, reports CNN.

According to Obama, closing the detention facility would be expensive in and of itself, but would save the government millions in the long run. His administration told ABC news that the expected cost of the move would be between $290 million and $475 million.
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