Several times, the Pentagon has repeated the canard that "1 in 7" former Guantanamo detainees has returned to the battlefield. Seton Hall Professor Mark Denbeaux has been diligent in contradicting the government's claims; in one embarrassing instance, it pointed out that several former detainees who had participated in the anti-Gitmo Road to Guantanamo documentary had been listed among those who "returned to the fight."
Today, the folks contesting the Pentagon's recidivism claims for former Gitmo detainees are getting a little help from the New America Foundation, in a report authored by reporter Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann that finds:
Contrary to recent assertions that one in seven, or 14 percent, of the former prisoners had "returned to the battlefield," our analysis of Pentagon reports, news stories, and other public records indicates that the number who were confirmed or suspected to be involved in anti-U.S. violence is closer to one in 25, or 4 percent.
Consider that in comparison, 2/3 of individuals incarcerated through the American criminal justice system are locked up again within six years. Now either terrorists are less committed to terrorism than your average criminal, Guantanamo has near-magical rehabilitative properties, or we're locking up a lot of people who aren't supposed to be there. The report also notes, however, that two detainees in particular, Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul and Said Ali al-Shihri, have become active leaders in the Taliban and in Yemen's al-Qaeda affiliate respectively since being released. That underscores the need for an effective, discerning review process, but I'm not sure it makes an argument for holding people forever without evidence. At least one of the detainees the report looked at, Abdullah Salih al Ajmi, seems to have been radicalized by his time in Guantanamo.
The report comes with this handy PDF Chart of all the detainees publicly known to have been released from Guantanamo. My favorites are the ones who were listed as having "returned to the fight" after giving interviews to McClatchy newspapers. Who authored that Pentagon report, Andy McCarthy?
UPDATE: Spencer Ackerman points out that SecDef Bob Gates told the truth. Which begs the question as to who was responsible for the original report, which not even the guy who runs the Pentagon thinks is accurate?
-- A. Serwer
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