National Press Club

Retired Military Officers Urge End to Gitmo, Torture

January 25, 2010 | By Tejinder Singh |

The Guantanamo Bay detention facility should be closed, and the detainees should be tried, a group of retired generals said at a Jan. 21 Newsmaker.

Gen. David M. Maddox, Lieut. Gen. Harry E. Soyster, Major Gen. William L. Nash, and , discussed Guantanamo and Handling of Terrorist Suspects addressed a National Press Club press conference in Washington, DC.

"Doing so will make America more secure on the battlefield, in the skies, and on our soil,” said retired Gen. David M. Maddox , who said that misinformation has dominated the public debate over the issues.

“Misinformation abounds, as some have taken to the airwaves to tell us that we must abandon the rules of law, the very principles and values we have cherished since the founding of our nation, the values that makes America America,” Maddox said.

Maddox said the ongoing process has made the way clear for all but 70 inmates of Guantanamo.

Retired Lt. Gen. Harry E. Soyster said “the hysteria that is permeating in the public debate around how the United States should deal with terrorism suspects is not only unwarranted, it is dangerous. It’s dangerous to us.

“Gripped by fear, some are calling for the return to the use of torture techniques against terrorism suspects in hopes of garnering useful intelligence,” he said.

“If the father of the Christmas Day bomber believed that America would torture his son, would he have turned him in?” he said. “We need more fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, cousins and aunts to trust in American justice and come forward with the tips, the intelligence that we need to thwart those who seek to do us harm.”

The retired officers cautioned that the Guantanamo prison facility provides the support for al-Qaeda in recruiting for terrorist activities against the U.S.

"I would just say to you that there’s a direct relationship between how we behave and how people react to our behavior, especially in light of our values,” said retired Major Gen. William L. Nash.

Retired Brigadier Gen. James P. Cullen said, “Bringing somebody back to the scene of the crime has been the traditional thing we do.”

Citing that after the World War II, high-ranking Nazis were tried at Nierenberg because Nierenberg was so associated with the rise of the terrorists of that era, the Nazi Party, Cullen said, “I think the right decision was made in bringing these guys up to New York for trial once they're ready to proceed.”

Members of the group had met with eight of the presidential candidates during the 2008 campaign, and when President Obama signed the Executive Orders ending torture and ordering the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison facility, 16 of the group's retired generals and admirals stood with him in the Oval Office.