Regarding this eye-opening new study to which Dan alluded, a few observations.
First, as I’ve been arguing ever since Obama counterterrorism advisor John Brennan absurdly claimed that a 20 percent recidivism rate for mass-murderers is pretty good, the truth is we have no idea how high the actual recidivism rate of former Gitmo detainees may be — other than that it’s probably a lot higher than the assessments we’re getting from the intelligence community, alarming though they are. We cannot know with certainty whether a former detainee has gone back to the jihad unless (a) we encounter him on the battlefield, or (b) we are in the rare situation of having excellent intelligence about what that particular former detainee is up to. Everything else is guesswork — and a lot of it is guesswork influenced by the hope that dubious initiatives like the Saudis’ terrorist rehab program actually work.
Second, Tom Joscelyn, who has been following this as closely as anyone, has an excellent article at TWS, which begins:
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.
The DNI’s latest assessment is a significant increase over previous estimates. In June 2008, the Department of Defense reported that 37 former detainees were “confirmed or suspected” of returning to terrorism. On January 13, 2009 — seven months later — Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said that number had climbed to 61. As of April 2009, the DoD found that same metric had risen further to 74 — exactly double the Pentagon’s estimate just 11 months before.
It’s all worth reading, as is another TWS piece by Steve Hayes, contending that these latest figures mean you can forget about Gitmo being shuttered. Steve futher notes that although most of the known recidivists were released by the Bush administration (when there were hundreds more detainees at Gitmo), five of them were released by the Obama administration — despite its ballyhooed enhanced review process.
On Obama administration stonewalling, Steve adds:
As the WikiLeaks cables related to Guantanamo Bay make clear, U.S. diplomats began a global effort to persuade allies to take detainees and, when that didn’t work, to bribe them to reconsider. But as the administration worked to empty Gitmo, reality was causing problems. The number of recidivists was growing steadily and the threat posed by those remaining at Guantanamo – the worst of the worst – was becoming clear….
After recounting the most transparent administration in history’s information lock-down — Obama turning a deaf ear to the press, congressional Republicans, and FOIA demands — Steve concludes:
The administration was undeterred and sought to downplay the dangers associated with releasing or transferring individual jihadists. In some cases, sources say, administration officials rewrote threat assessments on the detainees produced by the intelligence community and the U.S. military. And the only reason the administration is set to release the report now is that Congress, in the 2010 Intelligence Authorization bill, mandated that the office of the Director of National Intelligence make the information public by December 7, 2010. So despite its efforts to keep the information hidden, it will be made public. And despite the efforts to close Guantanamo Bay, it will remain open.