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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

While the Biden administration has pledged to close Guantanamo, there is no clear timeline for the completion of this goal.  

When President Biden took office in 2021, there were 40 men detained at Guantanamo. Today, 35 men still remain. Twenty-three detainees have never been charged with a crime and 20 are cleared for transfer—three having been cleared for more than a decade. Ten detainees have been charged with war crimes in the military commissions system and two have been convicted and are currently serving their sentences. All remain trapped in a facility widely considered to be the world’s most notorious prison, with inadequate access to necessary medical care. 

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 Guantanamo. Each day that the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay is open deepens the stain on our country’s moral fabric. 

A Threat to Our National Security

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, Guantanamo has been—and continues to be—used as a recruitment tool for transnational terror networks.

According to former CIA director John Brennan, “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 Guantanamo open is financially irresponsible. It costs $13 million per year to hold each detainee, 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. Guantanamo 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.