Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee have taken on President Barack Obama by earmarking $69 million for a new secret prison at Guantanamo Bay to house the 9/11 mastermind and several former CIA prisoners.
The prison would replace the crumbling "Camp 7" detention center, which has been shrouded for years in a cloak of secrecy, according to the Miami Herald
The new "high-value detainee complex" was added this week to the committee's spending bill, which included a total of $93 million for new construction on the various prison camps inside the sprawling Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.
The expenditures are the latest measures in the battle between the GOP and the president over his State of the Union declaration that the military prison in Cuba should be shut down
Although the project had previously been proposed by the U.S. Southern Command, the Obama administration was not interested and it was soon dropped, said the Herald.
The entire prison facility consists of 2,200 military and civilian personnel monitoring the remaining 154 terrorists held in the various camps.
The new prison funding is part of the National Defense Authorization Bill, which could face several changes as it passes through Congress and result in the construction plan being axed.
The Herald noted that the bill includes a stipulation that prevents any Gitmo prisoner being transferred to the United States for trial or to another detention center.
Texas Rep. Mac Thornberry, the second ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, touted the prison before the bill was approved on Wednesday night while revealing that the Army had informed Congress last year that it was designing a new complex at Guantanamo.
The current prison, Camp 7, on the 45-square-mile naval facility is run by a secret Army unit called Task Force Platinum, the Herald revealed.
The camp houses 15 former CIA prisoners, including six men awaiting death-penalty trials. The six are Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was the alleged mastermind between the 9/11 terror attacks, and four of his accomplices, as well as the alleged leader of al-Qaida’s 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole destroyer, Abd al Rahim al Nashiri.
Claiming that the camp is "falling apart" and is dangerous to U.S. personnel, Thornberry said, "Existing facilities have far exceeded their service life expectancy and are deteriorating rapidly.
"If this project is not funded detainees will continue to be housed in facilities that will degrade to the point of risking failure to meet operational, life and health-safety standards."
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