Gen. Michael Lehnert, who led the task force to open the Guantanamo Bay prison, penned an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press Thursday calling for the closure of the detention facility.
“It is time to close Guantanamo,” he wrote. “Our departure from Afghanistan is a perfect point in history to close the facility.”
Lehnert did not fault the U.S. for opening the prison, but said that it’s time to accept that the facility now does more harm than good.
“Our nation created Guantánamo because we were legitimately angry and frightened by an unprovoked attack on our soil on Sept. 11, 2001. We thought that the detainees would provide a treasure trove of information and intelligence,” he wrote.
“In retrospect, the entire detention and interrogation strategy was wrong. We squandered the goodwill of the world after we were attacked by our actions in Guantánamo, both in terms of detention and torture. Our decision to keep Guantánamo open has helped our enemies because it validates every negative perception of the United States.”
Lehnert said that early on he saw that the U.S. did not gain much intelligence from interrogating detainees, and that those few who need to be prosecuted should be transferred to the U.S.
“There are a handful of detainees at Guantánamo who should be transferred to the U.S. for prosecution or incarceration,” he wrote. “Such transfers remain prohibited under current law, but that law needs to be revisited.”
162 prisoners remain at Guantanamo, after the Defense Department December announcement that it will release of two prisoners to Algeria.
[H/t Reuters/Huffington Post]