Published November 18, 2011
Congress said it was “insulted” to find out we were sending millions a year in foreign aid to China. I am not sure how it is possible to insult a group that more than 90% of the country disapproves of, but that's for a different article.
But how about the foreign aid we give to another communist country at the expense of our own citizens. I am insulted at what we are doing at Guantanamo Bay Prison in Cuba. I am greatly insulted at the short sighted stupidity of our leaders to leave that prison system, and naval base, operating.
President Obama said he would shut Gitmo, but instead of shutting it he has increased its use. He also said he would hold civilian trials for the accused, but once again he continued forward with the Bush doctrine of military tribunals.
President Obama said these things as most politicians do, to stir emotions and to get elected.
I have been to Abu Ghraib and other prisons in both Iraq and Afghanistan; these are terrible individuals who don’t deserve to see the light of day ever again. The question is: where do we house them?
We spend a fortune housing them in Cuba and Afghanistan -- why could we not spend that here? Is there really a sane argument that we can’t house them in a high-risk prison in the US? How many high risk inmates have escaped in the US?
This is not about politics; I don’t care what the world thinks about Gitmo or military tribunals. (For the record, it was a horrible idea to want to put Khalid Sheikh Mohammed on trial in NYC -- this is exactly why military tribunals were designed and why the President realized he was wrong to suggest it.)
The problem is economics. It costs $800,000 per year to house an inmate in Gitmo, 32 times the average it costs to house an inmate in the US ($25,000). It costs 17 times to feed an inmate in Gitmo than what it costs to feed one in Florida’s penal system ($36 in Gitmo per day). We pay our soldiers combat pay for being in Cuba. We have a school in Cuba for our military personnel’s children -- 331 in 2010. We also have a naval base in Cuba -- to protect Jamaica?
Don’t forget the golf course, scuba diving and movie theatre, all perks our military should have, but do we have to build it there and not in the US where others can use them and local economies can benefit?
The economic boost of a prison and naval base in the US to a region that is suffering would be profound.
Close the naval base in Cuba and start using, to a greater extent, the one we have 90 miles away in Key West. Let those kids who are going to school at a huge cost to the US taxpayers go to school in Key West and bring taxpayer money to our schools in need.
I believe that being 90 miles away in case of an uprising of tobacco farmers in Cuba is plenty close.
Sloppy Joe’s on Duval Street, Key West, will appreciate the economic stimulus, but so would the entire area. Imagine putting those thousands of paid jobs into a place like Key West and how that would help an economy that is suffering.
Put the prison up to the highest bidder and see what state or city wants the jobs and economic boost. Gitmo itself runs a $150 million tab for US taxpayers annually. Put these high-risk inmates into an existing prison (which would have to be added on to) or build a new one. That's a shovel ready project.
Politicians will continue to send money to countries like China -- it’s why they have a 9% approval rating. They are in over their heads and not qualified to run the US. However, we should take the politics out of Gitmo and look at it economically -- to decide if we keep it open or move it to the US.