WASHINGTON -- Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is weighing a proposal to build a new $49 million prison for special detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- another sign that the base President Barack Obama promised to shut down will remain open indefinitely.
The new prison proposal is in an early stage, unlike proposed upgrades that include a new dining hall, hospital and barracks for prison guards, which are more advanced. A spokesman said all of the facilities proposed for replacement are deteriorating because they were never intended to be permanent.
"Most of the buildings and infrastructure were built for a short-term mission," said Lt. Cmdr. Ron Flanders, a spokesman for the U.S. Southern Command. "We got down there in 2002, but never thought in a million years we would still have this in 2013 with no end in sight."
The prison proposal wasn't originally included in the $150 million budget that Gen. John F. Kelly, the Southcom commander, discussed in congressional testimony this week. But after after Kelly mentioned it during his testimony, Flanders disclosed the estimated cost to members of the media, as Charlie Savage at The New York Times first reported.
The prison is likely to replace Camp 7, the secretive facility that houses so-called high-value detainees like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, though government officials wouldn't discuss that facility.