Gitmo Was Actually Humane —Until Rumsfeld Took Over

Camp's ills began when Rumsfeld weighed in
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 25, 2009 12:12 PM CST
The sun rises over Camp Justice at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009 on the day US President Barack Obama ordered the prison closed within a year.    (AP Photo/Colin Perkel)
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(Newser) – If Guantanamo Bay has become a symbol of torture, a place where prisoners' screams echo in our national psyche, it wasn’t always so, writes Karen Greenberg in the Washington Post. Though told the Geneva Conventions wouldn't technically apply, the military officials who set up the camp skirted Bush administration objections and enlisted Red Cross cooperation in ensuring prisoners were treated with dignity.

Brig. Gen. Michael Lehnert, the head of Guantanamo’s initial incarnation, saw the center as a pre-trial holding center, and he provided a Muslim chaplain, halal food, Korans, and other needs. But as weeks passed, vital intelligence wasn't forthcoming from detainees—so Donald Rumsfeld created a parallel command and yanked Lehnert, and “Interrogations, not trials,” became Gitmo’s future.