Thursday, April 14, 2011

GTMO Recidivist Rate

Carol Rosenberg writes in the Miami Herald that U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that three of the 68 Guantánamo detainees released since Barack Obama became president have engaged in "terrorism or insurgency." U.S. Ambassador Dan Fried reported these numbers to Congress on Wednesday.  Ambassador Fried declined to say who the men were or where they were sent after Guantánamo.  He also wouldn't say when U.S. intelligence crunched its latest figure. Rosenberg points out that this figure "is far less than what the Defense Intelligence Agency determined it was during the George W. Bush administration."

The recidivist number is inherently controversial.  Neither administration has been forthcoming in how they arrived at their figures.  There has never been a way for outside groups to test the government's assertions.  For instance, what does it mean to return to the insurgency?  Does it mean going back and protesting American foreign policy or writing anti-American pamphlets?  How many have actually returned to what a lay person would consider a battlefield or returned to plan a terrorist attack?  The government claims that security reasons necessitate keeping the names of the alleged recidivists secret and what they apparently did to classify themselves as recidivists. 

Rosenberg does provide some of the statistics known:  "The Obama administration has released 38 people to 16 countries for resettlement. Those countries include Albania, Bermuda, Slovakia and Switzerland. Another 28 detainees were sent back to their home countries of Afghanistan, Algeria, Britain, Chad, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Somaliland and Yemen. The Obama administration also sent two Tunisians to Italy for trials."

There are currently 172 detainees at Guantánamo and 59 have been cleared for transfer but remain in detention.