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The Military Spent $1.45 Million Opening a Starbucks and a KFC/Taco Bell in Guantanamo Bay

Photo: Washington Post

While the military might be shutting down the Burger King and Pizza Hut in bases in Afghanistan, fast food options remain in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Washington Post obtained a line-by-line breakdown of capital expenditures at the U.S. naval station in Guantanamo Bay, and it turns out that the Pentagon has spent at least $500 million since 9/11 renovating the base, including "$683,000 to renovate a cafe that sells ice cream and Starbucks coffee, and $773,000 to remodel a cinder-block building to house a KFC/Taco Bell restaurant." The Military Industrial Fast Food Complex!

This is in addition to baseball and football fields ($7.3 million), an abandoned volleyball court ($249,000), an unused go-kart track ($296,000), a skate park ($164,000), and 27 playgrounds that are often vacant ($3.5 million). Also: housing that looks like "modern-day hotels with mirrored walls, brass handrails and handsome foyers." This is only the renovation, mind you, for "not included are annual operating costs of $150 million."

Capt. Steven H. Blaisdell, the base's commander, defended the spending: "Because GTMO is an isolated and remote duty location with no access to an off-base community, all services must be provided on station... The installation benefits from expenditure of funds through retention and readiness improvements, as well as long-term facility sustainment, restoration and modernization."

But next up? "An expansion of one of the most popular spots on the base: O'Kelly's, an Irish pub."

· At least $500 million has been spent since 9/11 on renovating Guantanamo Bay [WaPo]