Far from being on the verge of closing as the Obama Administration longed to do before it ceased to be in control, the prison at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba is very much open, and very much in need of repairs to the main unit where the worst of the worst are housed.
Camp 7, as it is known, is a mess, and the people in charge down there want to replace it with a facility that can hold the worst of the worst until they meet their reward one way or another.
The Pentagon wants at least $69 million to replace Camp 7, the super-max unit that holds 15 men designated as “high-value detainees” who were previously in CIA custody. They include five men facing trial by military commission at Guantanamo for planning and aiding the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the U.S. The men could get the death penalty if convicted, but the proceedings have been bogged down in pre-trial proceedings for years and any conviction would likely bring years of appeals.
Officials say Camp 7 is in need of major repairs, with cracking walls and a sinking foundation, and it is not suitable to hold men who will likely be in custody for many years to come.
The new unit would be known as Camp 8 and would be outfitted with not just secure prison cells, but hospice beds and wheelchair access as these prisoners live out their last days. The question now is whether or not Congress will approve the funding.
Camp 8 would add to improvements and upgrades to the facility made under President Donald Trump. Those improvements include a new dining hall for guards with a view of the water and new barracks. Unlike his predecessors, President Trump shows no inclination to close the prison any time soon. If anything, he is more likely to approve filling it to the brim.
Officials at the detention center said they could take in about 40 more male detainees without any changes to staff levels and about 200 if additional guards are brought in. No such request has come from the administration, Ring said, but he added that he has been asked “some hypothetical questions” about capacity.
“We are not imminently expecting any new guests if you will,” he said.