Gen. McCaffrey Visits Guantanamo

07.07.06 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

“Arrogance, secrecy, and bad judgment have mired us in a mess in Guantanamo from which we are having great difficulty in extricating ourselves,” wrote U.S. Army Gen. (Ret.) Barry R. McCaffrey in a report (pdf) on his recent trip to the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay.

“The JTF Guantanamo Detention Center is the most professional, firm, humane and carefully supervised confinement operation that I have ever personally observed,” he stated.

At the same time, “Much of the international community views the Guantanamo Detention Center as a place of shame and routine violation of human rights. This view is not correct. However, there will be no possibility of correcting that view.”

“There is now no possible political support for Guantanamo going forward,” Gen. McCaffrey wrote.

“We need a political-military decisive move to break the deadlock” and to permit the closure of the Guantanamo detention facility.

Gen. McCaffrey proposed a combination of steps including transfer of as many detainees as possible to their host countries, criminal trials for some, and efforts to engage foreign and international legal organs to assume jurisdiction.

“We need to rapidly weed out as many detainees as possible and return them to their host nation with an evidence package as complete as we can produce. We can probably dump 2/3 of the detainees in the next 24 months.”

“Many we will encounter again armed with an AK47 on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. They will join the 120,000 + fighters we now contend with in those places of combat.”

But even if that is so, he wrote, “It may be cheaper and cleaner to kill them in combat then sit on them for the next 15 years.”

“We need to be completely transparent with the international legal and media communities about the operations of our detention procedures wherever they are located,” Gen. McCaffrey advised.

A copy of Gen. McCaffrey’s June 28, 2006 trip report on his June 18-19 trip to Guantanamo is available here.