Former Gitmo General: Prisoner Treatment Cost U.S. "Its Moral High Ground"

Says the facility should be shut down immediately

By Edward J. Carr
|  Friday, Sep 25, 2009  |  Updated 3:00 PM PDT
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Former Gitmo General: Prisoner Treatment Cost U.S. "Its Moral High Ground"

Maj. Gen. Michael Lehnert says U.S. lost moral high ground with its treatment of Guantanamo Bay detainees.

The Marine commander in charge of building the Guantanamo Bay detainment facility said Thursday the U.S. “lost its moral high ground” with its treatment of detainees there, The Associated Press reported.

"I wanted to run it close to Geneva Convention rules," said Maj. Gen. Michael Lehnert, who also advised that the controversial Bush-era prison be closed immediately. "Our job was to take them out of the fight, and once we had done that, I felt we had a moral responsibility to take care of them."

Lehnert said he aired his grievances through the chain of command, but the Pentagon gave him almost no advice on how to run the prison camp. He also said a separate unit was in charge of interrogating detainees which lead to arguments over prisoner treatment.

"I came to the conclusion very soon that this probably wasn't the right way to go," said Lehnert, who ran the prison for just 100 days, refering to others who were less concerned with humane interrogation tactics.

"Probably before I left Guantanamo, I was of the opinion it needed to go away as soon as possible," he said, adding that he didn't feel the interrogation techniques used were going to yeild any useful information.

"I think we lost the moral high ground," he said.

President Barack Obama has ordered the detainment facility to close by 2010, but it is not certain where the 200 existing prisoners will go.

Lehnert is set to retire from the Marine Corps this Tuesday after 36 years of service, according the L.A. Times.

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