From February to August 2012, a visitor to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base charged $5,516 to the federal government for use of a rental car on the 45-square-mile U.S. military base. From May to August 2010, another visitor spent about the same amount renting a vehicle, while from August 2010 to March 2011 someone spent $4,300.
Car rentals at Guantanamo Bay, which houses a detainment and interrogation facility of the U.S. military, have cost American taxpayers more than a half million dollars since 2009, according to Department of Defense documents obtained by the Washington-based watchdog group Judicial Watch and shared with Whispers. These car rentals have proliferated despite numerous other travel options for DOD personnel visiting the base, including bicycles and free, regular shuttle buses.
"The idea that you would need a car is fairly ridiculous," says Lisette Garcia, a senior investigator at Judicial Watch. "DOD is saying sequestration is going to handicap the mission, but here they are relying on rental cars and paying top retail rate."
Judicial Watch estimates DOD is paying a rate of $20 a day for even multi-month car rentals while DOD seeks to cut $47 billion from its budget before Sept. 30, 2013.
And according to DOD, the amount spent on car rentals at Gitmo may actually be higher than the numbers provided to Judicial Watch. The agency notes in the documents, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, that the numbers did not include purchases made without a government charge card, such as reimbursed purchases, and also excluded rental car records of people on permanent duty assignment to the base.
A spokeswoman for Guantanamo Bay Naval Air Station told Whispers she was working on getting more information on the costs of car rentals.