Whistleblower Sites 'Waste Of Funds' At Guantnamo Court And Prison
This message comes from NPR sponsor xfinity. Some things are slow like a snail races other things are fast like Xfinity X. by get get fast speeds even when everyone is online working to make WIFI simple easy awesome more at xfinity dot com restrictions apply and NPR investigation has uncovered criticism of the US prison at Guantanamo Bay Cuba from the inside NPR has learned that a former top attorney at the military court court there has filed a federal whistle blower complaint alleging gross waste of funds and gross mismanagement forty men are still confined at the prisoner there including holiday Jake Mohammed the alleged mastermind of the eleven of the nine eleven terrorist attacks which happened eighteen years ago today some have been held almost twenty years without being charged. Sasha pfeiffer of NPR's investigation seem has spent months researching the Cossack Guantanamo and found government spending totalling billions and billions more expected to be spent. She's in our studios this morning. Hi Sasha thanks for coming in. You're welcome good morning. What are we say billions. I mean that can wash over people. How many billions are we talking about. Since about two thousand els into it's been six billion dollars spent on the court in the prison together and I want to emphasize that. It's not just that critics say it's expensive. They say that it's wasteful. They told me that every a year hundreds of thousands of dollars of government devices hard drives cell phones laptops are destroyed because of spills of classified information. There are a lot of lawyers working down there hundreds of them. Some of them are death. Penalty specialists who are private attorneys paid by the Pentagon cost more than regular government lawyers some of them bill about a half million dollars a year. There are charter flights that taxpayers pay for that flight to and from the island some lawyers. They're mostly empty. Total legal costs costs about sixty million dollars. A year. That's despite the cases being largely stalled and one key finalized conviction since the beginning so how does the government justify those because they say that's just. That's just what it costs to run this operation. That's basically what they say It's also especially expensive because it's in Cuba so you have to go there and back every time you WANNA hearing. I've spent a week there. July generators air conditioners dehumidifiers humming all the time trying to keep the mold out of the tents in the buildings. They've eighteen hundred guards that are looking over the forty remaining prisoners. You know both sides blame one another for how long this is taking they sometimes it's an intentional delay strategy but and yeah it's really the numbers have really added up over time and the government hasn't responded to your requests for query well. They have provided numbers but the numbers have changed over time. They first told me it's one hundred and eighty million a year three months later. That number jumped to three hundred eighty million a year. I called the House Armed Services Committee last week to see if they had an updated numbers they had the out dated needed one hundred and eighty million dollar number this congress the Pentagon wha for about a month I said. Can you talk to me on tape about this. They said they couldn't provide anyone. the defense attorneys talk a lot so here is John Baker. He's the chief defense counsel. He's a Marine Brigadier General. Here's what he says. Holy Crap people need to know the travesty that is getting you know it's beyond comprehension that it is twenty nineteen people that were accused of crimes that it occurred in two thousand one captured in two thousand and three are nowhere near trial now about a week ago a judge in the nine eleven case did set a trial start date of January twenty twenty one but many lures. I've talked to think that's an unrealistic why I mean after all these all this time all these years and twenty twenty one is still years away. Yeah and you know part of that is because if you look at experience how long this process has taken over the past eighteen years it's hard to believe it can speed up that quickly when I was there in July. They were having these long complicated complicated dense arguments. About how do you define war. They were talking about Pearl Harbor and the lend lease act so that's slowing things down. The island doesn't have enough bathrooms rooms office space and housing for these trials and the number of people that would go there so it's just unprepared and then you know there have been incidents that have actually reversed progress. Sometimes I talked to Guantanamo defense lawyer named Michel Parody he represents the man accused of masterminding the USS Cole naval worship bombing that case has been on pause for almost two years because listening in devices were found an attorney client meeting room so three of the lawyers quit. Here's what Paradise Paradise says about all that the degrees permutation of chaos particularly in these military commission mm proceedings is something that's just unimaginable something. You couldn't make up unless you were the writers for the show veep or something like that who put the listening devices. They aren't sure they. I think the CIA did the prosecution says don't worry that listening devices weren't activated so it's just been it's been it's been a lot of drama. Wow you also heard from a whistle blower. WHO's talking for the first time publicly about all of this who is he. What does he say. His name is Gary Brown. He's a retired air force colonel. He was the legal advisor to the man who ran the war court and he points out a larger context which is that he believes. It's going to be hard to get death penalty convictions because so much evidence was tainted by torture. Even if there are convictions there could be fifteen years worth of appeals which would take another one point five billion dollars if these defendants are found not guilty. The government says it can keep holding them anyway so Brown says why don't we take the death penalty off the table. Settle these cases plea deals the prisoners would plead guilty and get life in prison that would speed things up and lower costs. They haven't been successful. They've stalled hold their incredibly expensive and instead. Wouldn't it be better if we just said you know what they didn't work this time but he got fired his boss before they could advance very much less. A A lot of people didn't want to hear Sasha pfeiffer of N._p._R.'s investigated investigations team. Thank you so much Sasha.