Reuters – 2005-06-24 23:56:03
WASHINGTON (June 15, 2005) — A Halliburton Co. unit will build a new $30 million detention facility and security fence at the US naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where the United States is holding about 520 foreign terrorism suspects, the Defense Department announced on Thursday.
The announcement comes the same week that Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the jail after US lawmakers said it had created an image problem for the United States. Critics have decried the indefinite detention of Guantánamo detainees, whom the United States has denied rights accorded under the Geneva Conventions to prisoners of war.
The prison was called “the gulag of our times” in a recent Amnesty International report. An air-conditioned two-story prison, known as Detention Camp #6, will be built at Guantánamo to house 220 men. It will include exercise areas, medical and dental spaces as well as a security control room, the contract announcement said.
The contract announcement did not specify whether the new prison would also hold foreign terror suspects. Under the deal with the Norfolk, Virginia-based US Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Atlantic, the work is to be wrapped up by July 2006. It is part of a larger contract that could be worth up to $500 million if all options are exercised, the Defense Department said.
The project is to be carried out by Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root Services of Arlington, Virginia. It includes site work, heating ventilation and air conditioning, plumbing and electrical work, the Pentagon said.
The first prisoners arrived at the prison camp in January 2002 after the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacked airliner attacks on New York and the Pentagon. The Pentagon has said about 520 detainees from more than 40 countries are being held at the prison, without giving a precise figure.
Rumsfeld said on Tuesday US taxpayers had spent more than $100 million on construction costs and no other facility could replace it.
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