TODAY   |  March 21, 2013

Guantanamo head requests $150 million in repairs

The new general in charge of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, which President Obama vowed to shut down, has requested $150 million to overhaul the facility as the detainees engage in a hunger strike. NBC’s Michael Isikoff reports.

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>> nbc news exclusive this morning on a proposal to spend tens of millions of your tax dollars to upgrade the military prison at guantanamo bay , cuba. here's michael isikoff .

>> reporter: the prison that president obama once vowed to shut down is still up and running. and the new general in charge wants another $150 million to overhaul the facility. all this while detainees are engaged in a hunger strike . 166 detainees remain at gitmo at a cost of $1 million each. and despite improvements in recent years, including communal living blocks and a new soccer field , the top general acknowledges the detainees' hopes of getting released were crushed when president obama stopped talking about closing it.

>> nothing in the inauguration speech about closing it. nothing in the state of the union . he's not restaffing the office that was, you know, focused on closing or transferring.

>> reporter: kelly described the hunger strike now involving 25 detainees as an attempt to regain attention. white house officials say they're still committed to closing gitmo as the president promised.

>> guantanamo will be closed no later than one year from now.

>> reporter: but they say their hands are tied by congress and prepare for the long haul, officials tell nbc news that general kelly wants to spend tens of millions for a new guard barracks, dining hall , and legal conference center . the pentagon is already spending $40 million for an underwater fiberoptic cable to pipe video of the commission hearings of the 9/11 hijackers. as one defense lawyer said, gitmo seems to be the one place they don't care about spending money. for today, michael isikoff , nbc news, washington.