One of the clear distinctions drawn since Barack Obama was inaugurated as President has been over the way forward for GITMO and the future of the detainees. Clearly, the Democrats expect the detainees to be dealt with through our Federal courts system and Republicans believe in treating them as prisoners of war, as we are a nation at war. Are the detainees criminals or are they terror detainees captured on the battlefield?
150 former Guantanamo detainees are either “confirmed or suspected of reengaging in terrorist or insurgent activities,” according to a new intelligence assessment released by the Director of National Intelligence’s office on Tuesday. In total, 598 detainees have been transferred out of U.S. custody at Guantanamo. 1 out of every 4, or 25 percent, of these former detainees is now considered a confirmed or suspected recidivist by the U.S. government.
A report released by the Director of National Intelligence confirms previous reports of those released from GITMO returning to fight again with the numbers significantly increasing.
The difference between confirmed and suspected recidivists is made and analysed:
As with past studies, the DNI differentiates between “confirmed” and “suspected” recidivists. For a former detainee to be considered a “confirmed” recidivist, analysts must find that a “preponderance of information” identifies “a specific former GITMO detainee as directly involved in terrorist or insurgent activities.” The standard for “suspected” recidivism is somewhat less, with only “[p]lausible but unverified or single-source reporting” being necessary.
The DNI finds that 81 of the 150 former detainees on its list are confirmed recidivists, while 69 are suspected. This, too, is a marked difference from previous estimates. The last assessment of Gitmo recidivism that was released to the public, dated April 7, 2009, found there were more suspected recidivists (47) than confirmed recidivists (27). Now, not only are there more confirmed recidivists (81) than suspected recidivists (69), but the number of confirmed recidivists has also increased dramatically – from 27 to 81
None of this is particularly surprising if common sense is to be used in determining policy and standards of incarceration. Most of the bad actors have popped back up and re-captured or killed on the battlefield after release during the Bush years. This is also not surprising as most were captured originally during his administration's years. The Bush administration, bowing to public outcry, began attempting to release prisoners to willing nations as the first steps in closing GITMO. It has proven an impossible task for many of them. No country, even their own native countries, wants them to return. If it were easy, trials would have been held and others would have been released.
Barack Obama made this a centerpiece of his foreign policy as he ran for President of the United States. He enjoyed bashing President Bush for the Iraq war and played to his base support. He pledged that the first act of his presidency would be to issue an Executive Order to close GITMO and made good on that. Needless to say, it has not happened. It was an early lesson to Obama that bloviating on the campaign trail and actually governing are often two opposite actions.
Now, the spokesperson for the State Department admits that the increase in recidivism exists and is rising. He also claims the release of the detainees is a problem created by the Federal Courts and must be adhered.
A bit of truth emerges:
Just months ago, Director of Counter-Intelligence John Brennan claimed that none of the detainees released under the Obama administration had returned to the battlefield. That claim is shown to be incorrect now. It was simply political posturing by the administration to support their policy that the detainees should be released.
Of the 66 detainees transferred by the Obama administration, 5 are now on the DNI’s recidivist list. Two of the five former detainees are confirmed recidivists, while three are suspected.
As recently as February of this year, the Obama administration claimed that none of the detainees it had transferred had returned to terrorism. “We believe that significant improvements to the detainee review process have contributed to significant improvements in the results,” John Brennan wrote in a letter to House speaker Nancy Pelosi. Brennan continued:
“I want to underscore the fact that all of these cases relate to detainees released during the previous Administration and under the prior detainee review process. The report indicates no confirmed or suspected recidivists among detainees transferred during this Administration, although we recognize the ongoing risk that detainees could engage in such activity.”
The article ends with the conclusion that this administration will no doubt have to moderate their pious claims further as time goes on: The DNI’s new assessment notes that the “number of former detainees identified as reengaged in terrorist or insurgent activity will increase.” On average, there is “about 2.5 years between” when a detainee leaves Gitmo and the U.S. Intelligence Community first learns that he has reengaged in terrorist or insurgent activities.
In other words, it is likely that more detainees who have been transferred since January 2009, and even before, will be added to the DNI’s recidivist list in the future.
It is really bad public policy to politicize the detention of the detainees.