In January 2002, the first prisoners from America’s war on terror arrived at a new hastily-built detention facility at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The camp’s first commander, Major General Mike Lehnert, recalls the challenges he faced in opening what would become one of the most notorious prisons in the world. Should he resign in protest or stay as a corrective? One thing he did was make every soldier under his command read The Geneva Conventions.
Listen to this excellent 10-minute interview.
As Maj. General Lehnert explains:
“Of all my initial guidance from superiors, perhaps the most disturbing was the decision by the Administration that the detainees would be afforded none of the protections of the Geneva Conventions. I thought that the Geneva Convention’s stricture to treat detainees humanely until they had been tried by an Article V Tribunal made sense. My personal decision was to run the facility in accordance with the Geneva Convention wherever possible. Although some of the people in the facility could be the ‘worst of the worst,’ that didn’t absolve us from the responsibility to treat them humanely.”