Skip to main content

Major general who opened Guantanamo says it's time to shut it down

Major general who opened Guantanamo says it's time to shut it down

Share this story

The major general who was the first commander of the US detention facility in Guantánamo Bay has written an editorial in the Detroit Free Press urging Congress to close the 11-year-old facility, which has been criticized for keeping international suspects in legal limbo for years.

The prison "should never have been opened," writes Maj. Gen. Michael Lehnert, who landed in Cuba in 2002 with 2,000 troops and the instructions to build a prison for 300 detainees within 96 hours.

The prison "should never have been opened."

"Our nation created Guantánamo because we were legitimately angry and frightened by an unprovoked attack on our soil on September 11, 2001," Lehnert writes. "We thought that the detainees would provide a treasure trove of information and intelligence."

He continues:

Even in the earliest days of Guantánamo, I became more and more convinced that many of the detainees should never have been sent in the first place. They had little intelligence value, and there was insufficient evidence linking them to war crimes. That remains the case today for many, if not most, of the detainees. In retrospect, the entire detention and interrogation strategy was wrong.

Maj. Gen. Lehnert has spoken out against Guantánamo before, but this editorial comes as Congress considers measures next week that would make it easier to close the prison. President Obama has pledged repeatedly to close the prison, but his commitment has not manifested in action.