Reinforcements Being Sent to Guantanamo; Prison Staff to Reach 2,000

Hunger strike continues


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There are already more than 1,800 U.S. personnel at Guantanamo Bay, which currently holds 166 detainees. According to the Miami Herald, the U.S. military is sending at least 125 additional troops with the goal of bringing the number up to 2,000. The hunger strike (currently at 103 strikers and 39 being tube fed) may be the reason. From the Herald:

"When you go to single cell, that takes more people," said Navy Capt. Robert Durand, the prison spokesman, who reported Wednesday night that 124 reinforcements from the Texas-based 591st Military Police Co. arrive at Guantánamo on Saturday.

That's one spokesperson. From the Herald again, here's another:

But Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ron Flanders, a Southcom spokesman, said the Doral headquarters that oversees the prison camps had already planned to add more units of soldiers to the camps with the goal of reaching 2,000 personnel.

Part of the reason, he said, is anticipation that the Guantánamo war court, where six men are facing capital terror tribunals called military commissions, might be "ramping up." And part of it was to add more replacements for individual sailors who had served in the prison staff.

The Herald also provides some background on why the hunger strike may have started:

In January, the last sailor guards at the communal Camp 6 departed and were replaced by Army MPs. Soon after that, the new Army guards carried out a communal cellblock search that the prisoners' lawyers say sparked the hunger strike…  

In recent years, a majority of captives lived communally, more like traditional prisoners of war. They ate and watched TV in groups; were allowed to pray together, up to 40 at a time at one point; played soccer; and tended to their own daily needs on their own clocks…

But prison commanders said the communal captives disobeyed their guards, and, in one abuse of the privilege, covered up the surveillance cameras in their communal cellblocks. So in April, troops raided the prison and locked most of the prisoners into individual cells, requiring more work from the guards who deliver food through slots, and shackled up each man to leave his cell for most activities — from showers to outdoor recreation cells and indoor TV rooms where they are confined alone.

How much does it cost to keep the detainees at Guantanamo? The Herald explains:

The disclosure of additional troops came on the day the senior Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee estimated that taxpayers pay $1.6 million per detainee each year.

Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., said in a news release that the cost was in contrast to $34,046 for a maximum-security prisoner in the Federal Bureau of Corrections.

In his terror speech last month, President Obama cited the cost of prisoners at Guantanamo at "almost $1 million" each. The president is asking for $450 million for Gitmo operations even as he insists he wants the prison closed. Obviously, he has not done so yet.

Reason on Guantanamo.