WASHINGTON — Following the 2014 midterm elections and subsequent power shift in the U.S. Congress, the Pentagon’s Southern Command will again seek funding to rebuild a prison facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Southern Command hopes to work with the Republican majority to erect a replacement facility for Camp 7, which houses former CIA detainees described as “high-value,” after President Barack Obama leaves office, according to the Miami Herald.
Speaking with the Herald, Rear Adm. Kyle Cozard confirmed that the Southern Command included a $69 million funding request in the fiscal year 2017 portion of its four-year plan.
The current Camp 7 facility opened in 2006 and has remained largely under wraps. Information as to the facility’s exact location within the Guantanamo complex, its cost, construction timeline and even its contractors remain guarded. However, the multi-tiered facility reportedly has features such as recreation space and its own medical unit, and holds an estimated 15 detainees. U.S. Adm. Patrick Walsh in February 2009 described the facility as similar to super-max prisons within the United States.
The facility is known to have held high profile detainees such as Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who confessed to helping orchestrate the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Though General John F. Kelly mentioned Camp 7 briefly during his March 2013 testimony concerning the upgrading of deteriorating military facilities, he declined to give any public details about the facility or its facility needs.
A New York Times article published in September 2014 described the entire Guantanamo complex as being built on buckling ground with corroding steel supports and leaky roofs. Additionally, the piece claimed that even guard residences have poor ventilation and no attached bathrooms, and that medical facilities are poor.
The U.S. Army previously sought the same amount from Congress to rebuild the facility, citing a foundation shift that resulted in a number of structural cracks and other issues. However, in an interview with the Herald Adm. Cozad stated that there are no operational issues with the facility.
One of the few civilians allowed access to Camp 7, attorney James Connell, spoke to the Associated Press about his visit in April 2014. “"It’s much more isolating than any other facility that I have known," Connell said. "I’ve done cases from the Virginia death row and Texas death row and these pretrial conditions are much more isolating.”