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article imageGuantanamo prison Camp 7 needs replacing but no funds available

By Ken Hanly     Feb 27, 2014 in Politics
Washington - Yesterday (February 26) Marine General John Kelly who is responsible for the detention center at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base to the U.S. Congress that Camp 7 which holds 15 high value prisoners is becoming unsustainable.
Kelly wrote in his report: "The expeditionary infrastructure put in place was intended to be temporary, and numerous facilities are showing signs of deterioration and require frequent repair". Kelly had asked for $49 million to fund a new facility at Camp 7 last year. The Congress refused to fund it and Kelly did not repeat the request this year. Kelly is instead working with his budget to find funding to maintain the present facilities.
While the base's prison camps are described as "safe, humane, legal and transparent' by spokespeople for the camp the same people are forbidden to show reporters Camp 7 or even talk about it. However, Army Col. Greg Julian, spokesperson for General Kelly said that among other issues the foundation was heaving and buckling.
Last August a lawyer for one of the alleged 9/11 plotters spent 12 hours inside the prison and claimed that it was incompatible with conditions for prisoners of war that are set out under the Geneva Conventions. There has been a clampdown on information from the Camp since the long hunger strike at the facility. There are known to be more than 2,000 troops and civilians employed at the prison. The annual operating budget is reported to be $130 million a year. Cost per detainee is about $840,000 per inmate per year. A Congressional estimate put the cost at $2.7 million per inmate a figure that Kelly claims is far too high.
Last April the Obama administration announced that it would spend $195 million on renovation and new construction at Guantanamo. General Kelly had requested $150 to $170 million just for renovations including $12 million for a new mess hall and $99 million for two barracks facilities. He also asked for funds to replace a special facility for housing "special detainees" or Camp 7 as it is known.
Another project planned is to install fiber optic cable at Guantanamo at a cost of $40 million. A spokesperson for Guantanamo military commissions, Lt. Col. Breasseale said that the goal of the project was to bring infrastructure at the base to the level of other government agencies. Breasseale however claimed that the project was simply to serve the naval station and not the detention center which Obama has promised to close.
The Cuban authorities have been informed about the project but have no say in it as under a 1934 treaty the US claims to be a lawful tenant in perpetuity. The lease cannot be terminated unless both parties agree. Of course the U.S. does not agree to termination. The U.S. dutifully sends a check for exactly $4,085 to Cuba each year. The Cuban government refused to cash any of the checks to protest the U.S. occupation of the base although it did cash one apparently by mistake. American lawyer Eric Montalvo said that the lease did not conform to real estate law: “If you look at the lease or you look at the terms of how the negotiation occurred, Cuba has requested that the US leave on a number of occasions, And if you look at the terms of the agreement, they do not conform to real estate law because there is this rule against perpetuities. You just can’t have something that goes on forever in a lease, there has to be a defined beginning and a defined end.”
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