Guantánamo Bay is undergoing millions of dollars of upgrades that could prepare it to remain open indefinitely, reports Michael Isikoff of NBC News.As of this week the U.S. detainment and interrogation facility opened a $750,000 soccer field for detainees, installed cable television in a communal living area — which has 21 cable TV channels, DVDs, newspapers and library books — and began offering “enriching your life” classes including learning to paint, writing a resume and handling personal finances for some of the 169 detainees.
Isikoff notes that only detainees who are “deemed to by compliant with the rules and therefore eligible for more privileges” can take advantage of the amenities.
The facility, located within Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, is also in the process of building a new headquarters for guards and a new hospital.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Obama went as far as signing an executive order on Jan. 22, 2009, calling for it to be dismantled within one year through an immediate case-by case review of detainees trials in U.S. civilian courts, but faced bi-partisan opposition to transferring detainees to U.S. jails.So he reversed the decision, signing another executive order on March 7, 2011, that said detainees would face military tribunals (the first five detainees went before a military tribunal in April) and then signed the NDAA in December, which placed heavy restrictions on transferring any detainees out of the facility.
Consequently many prisoners who U.S. officials acknowledged are innocent — such as Afghan and Pakistani farmers, chefs and drivers who were rounded up or even sold to U.S. forces and transferred across the world — continue to “languish in Guantánamo simply because they have nowhere to go” as their home countries would persecute them if they were forcibly returned while no other country will provide them safe haven, according to the centre For Constitutional Rights.
Official U.S. documents released by Wikileaks reveal that of the 780 people who have passed through Gitmo, only about 220 were assessed to be dangerous international terrorists while 380 were lower-level foot-soldiers “whose presence at the military facility is questionable” and at least 150 were the innocents who had “no reason recorded for transfer,” according to senior U.S. commanders.
Navy Adm. David B. “Woody” Woods, commander of the Guantánamo facility, told Isikoff that he doesn’t anticipate the closure of Gitmo anytime soon. That means that U.S. taxpayers will continue to pay $140 million a year — or about $828,402 per detainee — to operate the prison.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.