One of the most dishonest moments in Obama’s speech came when he assured us that detaining terrorists at Guantanamo Bay has undermined our security:
Guantanamo became a symbol that helped Al Qaida recruit terrorists to its cause. Indeed, the existence of Guantanamo, likely, created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained. So the record is clear. Rather than keeping us safer, the president at Guantanamo has weakened American national security.
The “record is clear?” The record is that there were no successful attacks after 9/11. What “record” can Obama possibly be talking about? And what evidence is there that Guantanamo “created…terrorists around the world?” On its face, it is absurd to think that anyone will join an organization that chops off people’s heads and gouges out their eyes with spoons because he is outraged that at Guantanamo Bay–what? A female interrogator sat on a detainee’s lap? It is jihadist ideology, not a belief that Americans are meanies, that draws recruits to al Qaeda and like-minded groups. (In fact, jihadis tend to think that Americans are softies.)
Moreover, while there are no data on terrorist recruitment, one thing we know about extremist organizations is that it is success, not failure, that brings adherents to their banners. After 9/11, al Qaeda has been dogged by failure, defeat and the loss of most of its key operatives through death or capture.
Obama, in short, just made up his purportedly empirical claim that Guantanamo Bay made the U.S. less secure. It is another example of his conviction that he can slip any sort of howler past the American people.