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Marine Who Ran Gitmo: U.S. Lost ‘Moral High Ground’

Audio

Aired 9/25/09

The Marine Commander assigned to set up Guantanamo Bay Detention Center said the United States “lost the moral high ground” with its brutal treatment of prisoners there.

The Marine Commander assigned to set up Guantanamo Bay Detention Center said the United States “lost the moral high ground” with its brutal treatment of prisoners there.

Maj. Gen. Michael Lehnert said the United States was tasked to build the Guantanamo Bay Prison for detainees in the war on terror.
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Above: Maj. Gen. Michael Lehnert said the United States was tasked to build the Guantanamo Bay Prison for detainees in the war on terror.

General Michael Lehnert retires next week as the Commanding Officer of Marine Installations West, including Camp Pendleton. He said he ran Guantanamo Bay Detention Center as close to Geneva Convention rules as he could in its early days in 2002. He said, before he was reassigned a few months into the project, he reached the conclusion the United States would not get much useful information by using the kind of brutal techniques practiced at the facility.

Lehnert said if the prisoners are transferred to the United Sates, he doubts Camp Pendleton would be a good place.

“I would be asking the question how does that effect operations?” he said, “The bases here in southern California host 40 percent of the combat power of the Marine Corps. Will there be restrictions upon aviation and firing large weapons?”

Lehnert said it might affect air space above the base. Lehnert adds that officials in Michigan, a state heavily affected by the economic downturn, are considering taking the detainees

President Barack Obama has ordered the prison to close by January 2010 but it’s not clear where the remaining 200 prisoners would go.

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