Pentagon plans to build Guantanamo’s second secret courtroom, which will be used for terrorist trials starting in 2023

  • There are growing calls for President Biden’s closure of the prison.
  • Two military judges will have simultaneous proceedings in the new courtroom, which will keep the public out of the room. The construction is expected to be completed by 2023.
  • In the new chamber smaller cases will be heard. It is expected to cost $4M to build.
  • Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would face trial with the others accused in plotting 9/11 attacks. The chamber has a gallery that the public can view. 

As President Biden calls for the closure of the prison, the Pentagon has begun construction on Guantanamo Bay’s second secret courtroom. It will hold terrorist suspect trials simultaneously. 

According to The New York Times, the new courtroom will be closed to the public and allow two military judges to simultaneously hold proceedings, starting in 2023.

The new chamber will hold smaller cases and cost $4 million. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the other four men charged with plotting the attacks on 9/11, would face trial in the existing chamber. There is also a gallery that the public can view. 

Guantanamo bay prison’s 20-year existence has seen it become increasingly secretive, even though taxpayers pay millions per year. 

Biden had indicated it would close Cuban military prisons before leaving office and was fulfilling an Obama-era promise. 

Obama tried to block Congress’s efforts by preventing any detainee from entering the US.   

Guantanamo cost US taxpayers $6 billion in the first year.

American taxpayers pay approximately $9.5 to $13 million annually for each prisoner. There are currently 39 prisoners in the prison. This compares to the $78,000 that was spent on each inmate in Florence, Colo.’s Super-Max prison. It houses some the most high-risk U.S. prisoners. 

The cost has risen dramatically over the years – a 2013 Defense Department report calculated the per-prisoner detention cost at only $2.7 million. 

Guantanamo has restricted the access of journalists to prisons and banned photography of places that had been routinely displayed to visitors in recent years. 

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the four other men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks would be tried in the existing chamber, pictured above, with a gallery for the public

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the other four men charged with plotting the attacks on 9/11, will be tried in the chamber that is pictured above. There’s also a gallery available for the public.

American taxpayers spend roughly between $9.5 and $13 million per prisoner, per year. The prison currently has 39 inmates

American taxpayers pay approximately $9.5 to $13 million annually for each prisoner. The prison has currently 39 inmates

About 770 men and boys have been held at Guantanamo as war prisoners, with prison population peaking at 677 in 2003

Guantanamo holds approximately 770 prisoners of war, including 677 children in 2003.

Public can see the current proceedings in the prison’s Courtroom Chamber and hear audio. The delay is 40 seconds, which allows the judge or security guard to turn off the sound if they feel a suspect may have said anything classified. 

According to The Times, Biden had not yet created the plans for the second Courtroom. 

The lack of transparency has been criticized in every courtroom. 

‘I’ve observed trials in Mongolia that were more transparent than this,’ said James R. Hodes, a lawyer representing Encep Nurjaman, the lead defendant charged in two Indonesian terrorist bombings. 

Sanad Yislam al-Kazimi, and Assadullah Hajoon Gulone Yemeni were both approved to transfer from Guantanamo in October for rehabilitation. 

Another 12 men could be eligible for release if the US State Department could reach an agreement with a receiving nation to impose security protocols, such as restricting their ability to travel abroad. 

Another 12 people are undergoing military commission proceedings. 15 others remain as prisoners of ‘law’, without any plans for their release, due to their role in the September 11 attacks.  

Guantanamo has held approximately 770 male and female prisoners of war. The prison population peaked at 677 people in 2003. 

The Bush administration, which opened the prison after 9/11, released 540 detainees, mostly repatriating them back to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. Obama released 200 more. Trump effectively halted the release of 200 more.