NPR Investigation Details Guantánamo Spending, Exclusive With Whistleblower

NPR Investigation Details Guantánamo Spending, Exclusive With WhistleblowerNPR Investigation Details Guantánamo Spending, Exclusive With Whistleblower

The U.S. military court and prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have cost more than $6 billion to operate since opening nearly 18 years ago and still churn through more than $380 million a year despite housing only 40 prisoners today. Included in that amount are taxpayer-funded charter planes often flying just a few passengers to and from the island; hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of government electronic devices intentionally destroyed each year due to spills of classified information; some Pentagon-funded defense attorneys billing about half-a-million dollars a year; and total legal costs of nearly $60 million annually even though Guantánamo has had only one finalized conviction. Criticism of that spending comes even from inside Guantánamo. A former top attorney there has filed a federal whistleblower complaint alleging "gross financial waste" and "gross mismanagement," NPR has learned. Retired Air Force Col. Gary Brown also claims that he and the former head of the military court were fired because they were negotiating a controversial cost-saving proposal with defense lawyers: allow Guantánamo prisoners — including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-defendants in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — to plead guilty in exchange for life in prison rather than face the death penalty. Such plea deals, Brown says, "would stop wasting resources." "My two words to summarize my time at military commissions was 'Wait — what?' " said Brown, who was legal adviser to the head of Guantánamo's military commissions from April 2017 until both of them were fired 10 months later. "At least a couple of ...
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