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Monday, May 20, 2024 | Back issues
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DoD’s Lips Are Sealed on Secret Guantanamo Site

(CN) - A document that sheds light on the costs behind Guantanamo Bay's secret "Camp 7," which houses the accused Sept. 11, 2001, conspirators, should remain classified, the Defense Department told a federal judge.

Miami Herald reporter Carol Rosenberg had filed her request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) about the Camp 7 costs back in 2009. Among that camp's 16 "high value" detainees are Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other accused Sept. 11 conspirators.

The department replied over a year later that it found just a single page related to the costs of Camp 7, but it withheld that document in its entirety as classified. It then waited over three years to shoot down Rosenberg's appeal, causing her to then file suit in October 2013.

Rosenberg, widely considered the journalistic authority at the detention center in Cuba, noted in the complaint that even President Barack Obama has slammed the expense and inefficiency of operating Guanatanmo for fewer than 200 detainees.

A report from the comptroller of the Defense Department made public this past July tallied the cost of such operations at $454.1 million

That "whopping $2.7 million" per prisoner, however, does not include costs for Camp 7, Rosenberg reported .

The Department of Defense previously built a secret cell block known at "Camp Five-Echo" for noncompliant detainees in Camps 5 and 6, at a cost of nearly $700,000, according to Rosenberg's complaint.

In a motion for summary judgment Friday, the Department of Defense it "properly withheld the one responsive document based upon statutory exemptions to disclosure" after conducting a thorough search.

There is no dispute the department conducted a satisfactory search for records, and the one-page document cannot be released because it includes the names of lower-level department employees who worked on the matter, according to the motion.

"Whatever slight public interest there might be in knowing everyone who provided information regarding the amount spent to build Camp 7, such disclosure is certainly outweighed by these lower-level employees' interest in not being identified as working on matters related to Guantanamo Bay, as well as their privacy and safety," the department wrote.

By claiming that it has only one page responsive to Rosenberg's request, the department has implied that it has no record of a construction contract for the facility.

The department also made a separate secret filing with the court that detailed why the responsive document might damage national security if made public, McClatchy reported .

That filing was not shared with Rosenberg's attorneys.

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