Adam Goldman and Missy Ryan of the Washington Post report that the Obama administration believes approximately 12 detainees released from the prison at Guantanamo Bay have launched attacks against U.S. or allied forces in Afghanistan that have killed about a half-dozen Americans.
In March, Paul Lewis, who oversees Guantanamo issues at the Defense Department, admitted to Congress that former Guantanamo inmates are responsible for the deaths of Americans overseas. Since then, the administration has clammed up. However, the Post’s Goldman and Ryan were able to obtain some details.
They report that most of the incidents were directed at military personnel. However, the dead also included one American civilian: a female aid worker who died in Afghanistan in 2008.
Nine of the detainees suspected in the attacks are now dead or in the custody of foreign governments. The Post’s sources haven’t said exactly how many detainees participated in killing Americans in Afghanistan, but the number is said to be fewer than 15 (that our government knows about).
These deaths aren’t on the Obama administration. All of the detainees in question were released during the Bush administration. But that’s not to say that some released by Team Obama haven’t killed Americans or others.
Moreover, the killing of Americans by detainees released during the Bush administration isn’t just on Bush. It is also on those, mostly leftists, who pushed so hard to have the terrorists released. If memory serves, Barack Obama was among them.
The Post notes that the Obama administration is trying, through the classification system, to limit access to information about the post-release terrorism of former Gitmo inmates. According to Goldman and Ryan, “both the Bush and Obama administrations have provided only limited information on current and former detainees; most of what the public knows about them comes from defense lawyers or from documents released by WikiLeaks.”
What does the Obama administration have to say about the fact that former Gitmo detainees engage in terrorism and kill Americans?
Administration officials say that recidivism rates for released Guantanamo inmates remain far lower than those for federal offenders. According to a recent study, almost half of all federal offenders released in 2005 were “rearrested for a new crime or rearrested for a violation of supervision conditions.” Among former Guantanamo detainees, the total number of released detainees who are suspected or confirmed of reengaging is about 30 percent, according to U.S. intelligence.
This comparison isn’t just meaningless, it is disgusting.
First, those released from the federal system aren’t engaging in terrorism; nor, in the overwhelming number of instances, are they killing people. Does the Obama administration really want to equate terrorists with parole violators?
Second, the government has no choice but to release federal lawbreakers when they have completed their sentences. The government has plenty of discretion when it comes to holding terrorists in Gitmo.
Third, I doubt that the government has any idea what percentage of Gitmo terrorists have returned to the battlefield (nor is it clear that the Obama administration, which has been so secretive, is counting honestly). For every one the government knows has rejoined the battle, there may be two who have rejoined without our government knowing about it. Terrorists don’t let us know that they reengage. (The recidivism rate for federal prisoners is also understated for similar reasons).
Anyway, the question isn’t whether the recidivism rate is lower for terrorists released from Gitmo than for convicts released from federal prison. The question is whether, with terrorism still a global threat and with American servicemen fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq (and based in other hot spots), we should be releasing anyone from Gitmo, given what we now know about terrorist recidivism — namely that the rate is substantial and we don’t know who will fight again and who won’t.
An administration with a decent regard for the safety of Americans would have no problem answering this question. It would have concluded long ago that Gitmo detainees should not be freed.
Unfortunately, this is not the conclusion Obama reached.