During an interview on CNN, President Obama used one of the GOP’s favorite arguments against them, but arguing that Gitmo is too expensive to keep open.
The president said,
I am going to be doing everything I can to close it. It is something that inspires jihadists and extremists around the world. It is contrary to our values, and it is wildly expensive. We’re spending millions for each individual there, and we have drawn down the population there significantly. There are a little less than 150 individuals left in this facility. We are continue to place those who have been cleared for release or transfer to host countries who are willing to take them. There’s going to be a certain irreducible number that are going to be really hard cases. We know they’ve done something wrong and they are still dangerous but it’s difficult to mount the evidence in a traditional Article three court so we’re going to have to wrestle with that, but we need to close that facility and I’m going to do everything I can to do that.
Obama was correct. Taxpayers are currently spending $2.8 million per person per year to house the detainees at Gitmo. In contrast, the most expensive Supermax prison in the country costs taxpayers $78,000 per inmate per year. Without considering the moral, ethical and legal issues, Gitmo is an expensive and inefficient way of housing the detainees.
President Obama turned the Republicans’ favorite argument against them. Republicans love to argue that taxpayers can’t afford any spending that they disagree with. Taxpayers can’t afford extending unemployment benefits, improving care for veterans, infrastructure spending, job creation programs, grants for higher education. Pick any program, and you can be certain that a Republican member of Congress has argued against it based on cost.
Gitmo is a true waste of taxpayer money that Republicans and many Democrats will never speak out about. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being wasted on an annual basis because the politics of post-9/11 fear are alive and well. Obama is on a mission to close Gitmo, and he was not shy about using “fiscally conservative” Republicans own argument against them.