Major General Douglas Stone’s Policy that Changed Gitmo

In Uncategorized on May 2, 2009 at 11:29 PM

My friend Brandon, attended S.C.O.N.A. (Student Conference on National Affairs) here at our school, Texas A&M University. The following is what Brandon learned. It’s interesting and I feel it important enough to share, so enjoy…

The theme of this years conference was U.S. Intervention in Problematic Areas around the World. Brandon heard a speech by Major General Douglas Stone of the Marine Corps. Major Gen. Stone serves as the head of the Marine Corps Reserve and the Marine Corps North. In his speech, Stone talked a lot about his time at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center.

Stone spoke to a room of approximately 150 people with about 75% being members of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets, a majority military crowd.

When Major Gen. Stone was assigned to Guantanamo, he realized he needed to establish credibility among the Muslim detainees. So he studied Islam. Stone has read the Koran and various other holy books of the Islam faith from cover to cover. In his speech he discussed how the common conception of Islam today is not the real Islam. From his studies, extremism is not what being a Muslim is all about. Nowhere in the Koran is there anything about killing infidels.

He then spoke about the “two phases of Guantanamo” There was the “before Gen. Stone” and “after Gen. Stone” He was very confident that the Detention Center genuinely changed after they implanted a new policy.

The new policy was, instead of interrogating/torturing, they decided to  listen to & then educate the detainees. They gave all the prisoners a copy of the Koran and once they convinced them it was not changed for an American perspective, the detainees accepted the books. They taught the prisoners the truth about what their faith was actually about.

Our brave men and women of the Marine Corps then turned this failure of a dentention center into a facility as nice as any normal American prison… with bonuses. The detainees were allowed to play and interact, attend daily classes, and eat good food. Our military then began to bring in the prisoners families from the middle east.

One cool story Brandon heard, then passed onto me was that of Gen. Petraeus’ visit to the facility. A person in the Middle East is brought up to hate the U.S. President and General David Petraeus; he is the one guy they would love to kill. Well, Major Gen. Stone decided to bring him in to Gitmo and introduce him to all the detainees. So Petraeus came and interacted with everybody. He sat with them and learned with them Then at the end of the day, the prisoners began chanting his name, “Petraeus! Petraeus! Petraeus!”

Now here is my friend Brandon’s perspective… “A lot of people might think that Major Gen. Douglas Stone came and simply fabricated all of this with the intent of improving public opinion. But my question is, why would a United States Major General tell a blatant lie to an audience full of this country’s future military?”

The following are my thoughts on all of this…

Yes, Guantanamo has improved. And Yes, I still believe it should be shut down.

Sometimes in order to change the overall direction of a policy you have to take big steps. Closing Guantanamo is a big step toward our new direction for defeating terrorism. I believe that even though it isn’t as bad as it was, America will be better off once it’s closed.

We must learn this lesson… The United States of America is and always will be amendable. If our government is functioning well, “We the people…” must work to make it better. If our government is functioning unconstitutionally or poorly, “We the people…” must work to make it better. Circumstance should make no difference in our desire to work and make America better.

So may we continue the virtuous work of ending abortion, bringing Africa to it’s full potential through continuing creative aid, and guiding Guantanamo Bay detention center to it’s end.

May “We the people…” stand for human rights no matter how young or old, location or circumstance.

May we all be eagerly ready and vigorously involved in the hope that transcends generations; the hope that is God blessing America.


  1. There is one glaring error in this piece. Marine Major General Stone did not, repeat, DID NOT command Guantanamo. Major General Stone was the Deputy Commanding General of Multi-National Force Iraq and Commanding General of Task Force 134 which consisted of all Detention Facilities in Iraq. It was in Iraq that General Stone instituted his reforms and completely overhauled the U.S. approach to detention. Briefly, he established a process for detainees to appear before a review board and respond to any charges; he established education programs for detainees that consisted of vocational training, reading/writing (a majority of the detainee population is illiterate), civics, mathematics; a sreamlined family visitation process that included close-circuit television for family members who were too far to travel, buses to bring family members; work programs, voluntary religions discussion groups led by moderate Muslim clerics; and a detainee release process. Recidivism is approximately 2%, far less than any other program.

    General Stone was brought in with the specific mission of reforming detention after the abuses of Abu Gharib and though not perfect, by all accounts he transformed a huge U.S. liability by understanding that he had to know and understand the people who were under his care.

    To answer the separate question, should Guantanamo be closed? Absolutely and I strongly believe General Stone would agree with that assessment.

  2. Aimee,

    I did not say that Marine Major General Stone was in command of Guantanamo. So after reading your comment, I’d say we agree, on everything surrounding this post.


  3. For someone who is so against Guantanamo staying open, you certainly seem to post a lot regarding its improvement. I wouldn’t want people getting the impression that you tacitly approved if the compound in its current iteration if I were you, so it seems odd that you would spend so much time emphasizing how it has somehow “gotten better.”

  4. I’m for my country, the United States, doing what is right regarding human rights.

    My country was abusing human rights in Gitmo, so I want those human rights abuses to end. This isn’t simply about “Guantanamo” this is about human rights. So if human rights at Gitmo improved, I will report it. My stances aren’t based on political frustrations, they are based on the protection of people’s rights. My stances are larger than bickering political moves, they are about the dignity, worth, and intrinsic value of people.

    If you care about people and human rights, you should be full of joy when you read that the conditions have improved at Gitmo, not worried that it will somehow keep the place open. If it does make you more worried that it will stay open than joyful that people are being treated justly, then I question your motives for wanting Gitmo closed.

    Guantanamo had/has a lot of bad surrounding it in regards to abusing people, therefor I want to see the facility closed. America will be better off without it.

    Thanks again for the discussion you spark on this blog, people are learning important lessons because of you, A Concerned Citizen/bobbybingo.

    I hope your week is going well,

  5. I’d prefer to end the syndrome, not the symptoms, actually.

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