1. Background
  2. U.S. Wars & Militarism

The Detention Facility at Guantanamo Bay: A Dark Chapter


Soon after September 11, 2001 and the ensuing global war on terror, the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay was established.

Its intent was to hold, interrogate, and prosecute what former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld deemed “the worst of the worst,” while still remaining outside of legal U.S. jurisdiction.

Despite President Obama’s continued promise to close the detention facility, thirteen years later, 122 detainees remain at Gitmo. 57 of these detainees—nearly half—were cleared for release five years ago, yet they remain trapped in what has been accurately deemed “the warehouse of the forgotten.”

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 U.S. has an obligation to uphold its cherished values of justice, freedom, and equality. If our nation hopes to remain a voice of morality in the world, it is imperative that we close Gitmo; each day that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is open is another stain on our country’s moral fabric.

On Our National Security/Recruitment Tool

'Our nation will be more secure the day when that prison is finally and responsibly closed.' - John Brennan

National security leaders agree: the existence of the detention facility at Guantanamo 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 rallying cry for terrorist recruitment. According to John Brennan, director of the CIA, “Our nation will be more secure the day when that prison is finally and responsibly closed.” Brian McKeon, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, agreed stating, “The greatest single action the United States can take to fight terrorism is to close Guantanamo.”

An Economic Burden

There’s no way around it—the sheer cost to uphold Guantanamo showcases just how economically irresponsible it is to keep the facility open. It costs more than $3 million per year to hold each detainee at Guantanamo, meaning that it costs American taxpayers nearly $400 million to keep the facility operating every year. To put this in perspective, it costs 100 times more money to hold an individual at Guantanamo than in a high security federal prison in the United States. Gitmo is now considered the most expensive prison in the world, a point that makes it even more difficult to justify its continued existence.

It’s time to close this chapter in American history and to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.