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U.S. leadership, credibility pay price of Guantanamo

Sunday, June 13, 2010; A14

The June 7 front-page story "Camp Costly" revealed how the United States has spent more than $500 million to upgrade the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But the greatest cost of Guantanamo has been to American global leadership and credibility as a nation that respects the rule of law.

Gen. David H. Petraeus has made it clear that "the existence of Gitmo has indeed been used by the enemy against us" and that it serves as a lingering reminder of missteps in the war on terror such as the abuses at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

There are not benefits to outweigh these costs. In the time that federal courts convicted 195 members of al-Qaeda and its allies, the military commissions at Guantanamo convicted three. A recent report confirmed that most Guantanamo detainees have been low-level operatives. Many were captured and turned over to the United States by poor locals hoping to cash in on a $5,000 reward.

The real absurdity of the Guantanamo boondoggle is that we never needed to spend a dime to create it.

Charles C. Krulak, Naples, Fla.

The writer, a retired general, was commandant of the Marine Corps from 1995 to 1999.

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