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Former Guantanamo commander to speak at Furman Oct. 28

Michael Lehnert

Michael Lehnert

Retired Major General Michael R. Lehnert, the former commanding officer of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba, will speak on the Furman University campus Monday, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. in Shaw Hall of the Younts Conference Center.

His talk, “Guantanamo: When Public Policy and the Constitution Collide,” is free and open to the public.  Lehnert is on campus as a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow, and his speech is sponsored by the Riley Institute at Furman.

Much of the controversy surrounding the treatment of 9/11 prisoners occurred at Guantanamo Bay, where al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners were held.  While in command of the detention facilities in 2001, Lehnert strived to uphold the provisions of the Geneva Convention, even in the face of opposition from Bush administration officials who were focused on national security at all costs.

In his talk at Furman, Lehnert will discuss the history of the Guantanamo facility and its intersection with foreign policy, and describe how he tended to 300 captives from the war on terror.

Lehnert was commissioned in 1973 in the U.S. Marine Corps as a combat engineer and participated in combat operations in Panama, Kuwait, and Iraq. In 2003 he led 5,000 Marines and sailors during the initial invasion of Iraq in support of the 70,000 Marines who formed the I Marine Expeditionary Force.

During his 37 years of active duty, Lehnert held 13 separate commands from platoon commander to joint task force commander. He was the chief of staff joint task force Panama charged with overseeing the turnover of the Panama Canal, and commanded the marine logistics group during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Lehnert was the subject of Karen Greenberg’s book, The Least Worst Place, which is used in many military and law schools as a study in ethical decision making. The National Conflict Resolution Center honored him in 2010 as its National Peacekeeper Award recipient.

For more information, contact Furman’s Riley Institute at 864-294-3546 or

Last updated February 22, 2016
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Clinton Colmenares
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