Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

Closing Prison at Guantanamo Bay is Necessary to Uphold American Values, MU Expert Says

May 27, 2009

Story Contact:  Emily Smith, (573) 882-3346,
Eric Greitens, (314) 588-8805,

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Last week, President Obama defended his decision to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, continuing the public argument about American defense practices. Eric Greitens, a University of Missouri public affairs expert and former U.S. Navy SEAL officer, says that closing the prison is necessary to uphold American values.

"Closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay is a complex and difficult challenge, but also a necessary step," said Greitens, senior fellow in the MU Truman School of Public Affairs. "Both President Bush and President Obama have recognized that Guantanamo does not represent the best in American values. It's important for America to demonstrate to the world an unflinching commitment to combating terrorism and an equally strong commitment to upholding justice."

Greitens says that torture is not a reliable tool on the battlefield and urges legislators to remember American values when considering torture policy.

"When soldiers fight, they fight for our values," Greitens said. "Torture is an affront to all of the standards of good conduct, discipline and honor that are the true foundation of America's incredible fighting force."

Greitens served as commander of an Al Qaeda targeting cell in Fallujah, Iraq. The cooperation of the local population is an important asset for Americans serving on the ground level of the war on terrorism, Greitens said.

"In Fallujah, we learned very quickly that our most important intelligence came from members of the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi police force and community members," Greitens said. "History has proven that torture is an extraordinarily ineffective means for developing actionable intelligence. Valuable intelligence is only developed through persistent, patient effort."

Greitens serves as a reservist in the U.S. Navy and as volunteer chairman and chief executive of The Mission Continues, which is an organization that provides service opportunities for wounded veterans who desire to continue to serve their country, but whose disabilities prevent them from continuing to serve in the military. The Mission Continues accomplishes this goal by awarding fellowships for volunteer work to veterans who have suffered severe injuries in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Greitens teaches public service, ethics and leadership at the MU Truman School of Public Affairs. He has a background in academics, athletics, humanitarianism, government, non-profit organizations and the military, which he uses in his classes at MU.