Washington D.C. – As the House considers the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (FY2015 NDAA) today, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith will offer an amendment designed to provide an effective strategy to close the detention facility located at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO). The plan lays out six key steps to close the facility, including the removal of the unnecessary transfer and construction restrictions, which have provoked a veto threat from the White House.
“As the number of detainees held at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, continues to shrink, the cost to taxpayers will only continue to grow,” said Ranking Member Smith. “This growing cost, coupled with the ongoing damage to our national security and moral standing in the world, underscores the necessity to close this international eyesore.”
“The Republican unwillingness to budge on provisions related to GTMO has now placed the bill at risk. It is becoming more likely that the White House will veto the National Defense Authorization Act in direct response to the GTMO provisions. We should prevent that from happening by adopting my amendment,” continued Smith.
Operating the facility has cost more than $5 billion since 2002. Additionally, with the cost expected to increase in the coming years, we are currently spending approximately $2.7 million per detainee each year at Guantanamo Bay, compared to $78,000 per inmate to hold a convicted terrorist in the most secure federal prison in the United States, the Supermax facility in Colorado.
The plan offered by Smith would not close the facility tomorrow. Rather, it clears the way for a gradual and responsible path forward.
Specifically, the amendment would:
- Strike the domestic construction (Section 1032) and transfer prohibitions (Section 1033) in the bill;
- Authorize the Department of Defense to use funds to construct or modify facilities and to effect transfers into the United States, its territories and possessions, notwithstanding other applicable prohibitions;
- Prohibit the use of authorized funds, after December 31, 2016, for the detention facility or detention operations located at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba;
- Expedite the process for completing of periodic review boards for GTMO detainees;
- Require the President to develop a disposition plan for the remaining Guantanamo detainees; and
- Redistribute $69 million in military construction (MILCON) funding allocated for a new High Value Detainee complex, which the Administration did not request, and restores $20 million cut for the planning & design for a HIGH PRIORITY missile defense radar site for homeland defense and $49 million to fund other MILCON projects.
“The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is an international eyesore that undermines national security objectives, damages our credibility with regard to human rights and international law, and is a massive waste of taxpayer dollars. It is time to close this facility,” said Smith.