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On Jan. 11, 2002, the U.S. military detention facility at Guantánamo Bay was established. In the two decades since, roughly 780 individuals have been held at the prison under the guise of the failed War on Terror.

“Our nation will be more secure the day when that prison is finally and responsibly closed.”

John Brennan

In February 2021, the Biden administration launched a formal review of Guantánamo, in line with President Biden’s goal of closing the prison. Four months later, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced he is looking into appointing an envoy to work full-time on shutting down the facility. 

However, the administration’s review of Guantánamo continues with no clear timeline for completion, and 39 men remain incarcerated there. Twenty-seven detainees have never been charged with a crime and 18 are cleared for transfer—three having been cleared for more than a decade. They remain trapped in a facility widely considered to be the world’s most notorious prison.

The Cost of Guantanamo

A Question of Morality

As a Quaker organization, FCNL believes in the principle of “seeing that of God in everyone.” As a nation that purports to guide itself by high moral standards, the United States has an obligation to uphold its stated values of justice, freedom, and equality. Those values require that we close Gitmo; each day that the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay is open deepens the stain on our country’s moral fabric.

On Our National Security/Recruitment Tool

The existence of the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay is more than just a moral crisis—it’s a threat to national security. As a symbol of torture and indefinite detention, Gitmo has been—and continues to be— used as a recruitment tool for transnational terror networks.

According to John Brennan, former director of the CIA, “Our nation will be more secure the day when that prison is finally and responsibly closed.” Two dozen U.S. Senators agree, writing in a letter to President Biden that the military prison is a “symbol of lawlessness and human rights abuses” which “continues to hinder counterterrorism efforts and cooperation with allies.”

An Economic Burden

There’s no way around it—keeping the facility open is financially irresponsible. It costs $13 million per year to hold each detainee at Guantanamo, with a total annual cost to American taxpayers of $540 million just to keep the facility operating. 

By comparison, it costs $78,000 per year for each inmate at a U.S. supermax prison. Gitmo is considered the most expensive prison in the world, making it even more difficult to justify its continued existence.

We urge President Biden to end this shameful chapter in American history by closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay immediately.