February 1st, 2010
07:41 PM ET
13 years ago

Obama budget includes money to house Gitmo detainees in U.S.

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama is asking for more than $230 million in the 2011 budget to buy and prepare an idle Illinois prison to house terrorism suspects now detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Justice Department budget for 2011 unveiled Monday calls for about $172 million for the federal government to acquire and renovate the state-owned prison in Thomson, Illinois, and another $66 million to eventually staff and equip it.

The budget requires congressional approval, and several lawmakers in both the House and Senate have vowed to block the funds, potentially preventing the transfer of many of the 192 remaining Guantanamo detainees to U.S. soil.

"Even though Americans are facing tremendous economic challenges, the administration has chosen to spend $237 million dollars in taxpayer money to provide free travel, room and board in Thomson, Illinois for some of the most dangerous Guantanamo detainees," said a statement Monday by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "It is time for the President to focus on the security and economic needs of the American people, rather than on the needs of those dangerous extremists who seek to do us harm."

Even if the funds are approved by the start of the 2011 budget year in October 2010, Justice Department officials said Monday the transfer of any detainees was unlikely to start until several months later.

In addition to the cost of the Illinois prison, the Justice Department budget seeks another $73 million dollars for the transfer, prosecution and incarceration of five Guantanamo Bay detainees currently slated to stand trial in criminal court for their alleged roles in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Justice Department officials told reporters that includes about $23 million for security, $15 million for transportation, $15 million for litigation, $7 million for detainee housing and another $12 million for related expenses.

Gary Grindler, the acting deputy attorney general, said the Justice Department is committed to a civilian trial for Khaled Sheik Mohammed and four others charged in the 9/11 case. Grindler said no decision has been made on whether the trial would be moved from New York City.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs also said Monday that the government was still examining whether to hold the trial in New York City or somewhere else.

Federal officials informed New York authorities that the cost of a long-running trial in New York City could approach $1 billion.

New York officials including Mayor Michael Bloomberg are increasingly opposed to conducting the trial in Manhattan due to the high cost and disruptions it would cause.

Julie Menin, chairwoman of a city community advisory agency, proposed four alternative locations for the trial within the Southern District of Manhattan: Governors Island, Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and the Bureau of Prisons jail complex at FCI Otisville.

The latter three are all in Orange County, New York, a county less than an hour away from New York City, county executive Edward Diana told CNN.

Diana opposes holding the trial in Orange County, and warned he would mount a legal challenge to try to stop it.

A West Point spokesman said last week that no one has officially requested a review of demands for such a trial, which would require in-depth study of legal and security concerns.

Filed under: Budget • Guantanamo Bay • President Obama
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Stacie

    We in Northern Illinois think it's a great idea. We have this empty supermax prision, and we know our wonderful men and women who will work therre will keep us safe. Anyone who lives near a supermax knows how safe it is...anyone who doesn't should be quiet!

    February 1, 2010 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  2. Any idiot can see Obama never had......

    any intention of closing Gitmo.......he said it strictly to garner the votes of his base...........and so his base loses again as they have been all along....

    February 1, 2010 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  3. GI Joe

    AND it costs to keep them at Gitmo. More on the subject, Congressional retirement is ALSO in the budget. From NTU:

    Congressional pay and perks directly add hundreds of millions of dollars to the yearly bill that Americans are forced to pay for the federal government - a significant cost for taxpayers, even if pundits dismiss the amount as a "drop in the bucket." Yet, beyond the basic issue of dollars and cents, Congress's perks have other pernicious effects. They distort the budget process, by diminishing lawmakers' moral authority to say "no" to special interest spending requests and benefit boosts for other government officials. They distort the electoral process, by tilting the playing field against challengers. Most importantly, they undercut efforts for long-term economic and budget reform, by insulating Members from the real-world effects of their own policies.

    February 1, 2010 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  4. Mike in MN

    This is beyond crazy. 230 million dollars to move them out of Guantanamo when they should have been left there in the first place? I understand some Democrats in the Senate are going to join Republicans and refuse to fund this madness. The only hope for this nation is for Blue Dog Democrats to join with Republicans and shut Obama down until he can be voted out.

    February 1, 2010 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  5. Emma

    What would it cost to leave them at GITMO?

    February 1, 2010 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  6. eric beese

    Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was grievously misquoted.

    What she really said:
    "It is time for the President to focus on the security and economic needs of the Likud Party of Israel, rather than on the needs of those dangerous extremists who seek to do us harm, or the needs of the American people."

    February 1, 2010 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  7. Tim

    Stupid is as stupid does.

    February 1, 2010 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  8. WoW

    Mr. President,

    Leave them in Gitmo. If you want to stop torture over there then fine. LEAVE THEM THERE THOUGH AND SAVE US ALL $230 MILLION. That can go to ensuring our troops overseas are getting everything they need.

    February 1, 2010 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  9. Lilarose in Oregon

    The naysayers are already at it.......whine, whine, whine!

    We should have time limits for every government proposal. That applies to all branches of government.

    We need to get something accomplished here in the United States of China.

    February 1, 2010 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  10. dude

    can't believe they want to spend our tax money fixing a prison up, just so they can bring the terrorist to American soil (which does not need to happen anyway) so they can crow I closed gitmo. big whoopee.

    February 1, 2010 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  11. southern cousin

    Wait, wait. Let me get this straight.. We have to build a new Gitmo, cause Obozo promised a bunch of dope smoking pinkos, he would close Gitmo. Hey its just money from people who work for it, right. What a corrupt, inept bunch this administration is.

    February 1, 2010 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  12. MatthewDetroit

    Barack is responsible for...

    1.45 Trillion added to the budget deficit in 2009
    1.60 Trillion to be added to the budget deficit in 2010
    1.35 Trillion to be added to the budget deficit in 2011
    1.35 Trillion to be added to the budget deficit in 2012
    That is 5.75 TRILLION in 4 years.... WE ARE BROKE

    Are YOU PEOPLE CRAZY... he is ruining the country and driving us into the ground. He is spending and more spending without any end in site. Then he has the AUDACITY to say he is suggesting cutting 15 billion in discretionary spending a year.... Are you insane.

    This is like your daughter spending 200,000 on your credit card. STOP OBAMA now. IT is TIME to IMPEACH BARACK OBAMA.

    February 1, 2010 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  13. mojo

    Surely this was as much of an atrocity when Bush decided to house 800 convicted terrorists in federal prisons (after trying them in US civilian criminal courts).

    February 1, 2010 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  14. Scott, Tucson

    Save the money and keep the terrorists at GITMO. If the left wing liberals want to house those people in the States, let them fund it then.
    These trials are going to be a farce, I can hear each one of the terrorist tell the court, your honor I am innocent and was tortured to force a false confession from me. Apply the Geneva Convention rules, use a military tribunal than if found guilty a firing squad.

    February 1, 2010 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  15. ib

    Disgusting; gitmo should be keep open. Putting this country in more danger is all that will do by bringing them here.

    February 1, 2010 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  16. Four and The Door

    What's another $230 million in pork for Obama's good buddy Senator Durbin ( D-IL )? Of course, that's peanuts compared to the $1.2 billion he just announced for a speedy fast train for Durbin !

    He's sure keeping those Federal funds pumping back home. Our tax dollars hard at work.

    February 1, 2010 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  17. John

    I've got to wonder why so many Republicans believe Islamic terrorists transfered from Guantanamo are going to enjoy such jolly time in American jails.

    And why are Republicans so afraid of trial by jury?

    February 1, 2010 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  18. notgood

    bad idea, more wasted money. course all the bleeding heart liberals and obama worshippers( hope he does not make a quick right turn, it will break their noses) will think this is the grandest humanitarian effort ever.If those guys get loose, you don't think they would give you a new ear to ear smile. naive weak freaks.

    February 1, 2010 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  19. valwayne

    We don't want these murdering terrorists brought into the heartland of the United States, and in a country with massive UNEMPLOYMENT and massive debt we do not want to spend hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars on these people. This plan is insane! We don't want these murdering terrorists treated like criminals. We want them kept out of the country and treated like the illegal combatants they are. They should be tried by military tribunals as allowed by law. The Democrats in Congress can stop this insanity by telling Obama NO! If hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money are spent to bring these murdering terrorists into the heartland of the U.S. every Congressman or Senator that doesn't fight to stop it should be defeated at the next possible election. The voters united will not be defeated!!!!!!!

    February 1, 2010 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  20. Hammerer

    Obama has proved that he can talk but little else.
    So for he has not made good decisions.
    His choices for appointees have been questionable.
    He has no leadership ability.
    Other than run a good campaign and make hollow pledges where has he been effective?

    February 1, 2010 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |