Thursday, December 09, 2010

The dangerous cluelessness of the Obama administration

The administration's desired policy on Gitmo has been to continue releasing those detainees that they judged to not be a danger. This policy has received a major setback with the release of a Defense Department report that the recidivism rate of those released Gitmo detainees is about 25%. Many of those released detainees who have returned to engaging in terrorism were released during the Bush administration, but Obama has continued the policy despite the discouraging results. And his State Department spokesman doesn't seem that disturbed about the report that one in four of the detainees have returned to terrorist activities. Instead he's responded with a verbal shrug, asserting that this is about what they expected to have happen.
MACCALLUM: Let me quote the numbers, 13 are dead, 54 are in custody and 83 remain at large. Are we willing to take the chance with those 83, and, more importantly, with the 174, who are still detainees, is it time -- are we in the middle of a war, I guess is the question? Or not?

CROWLEY: Well Martha, I suppose I would be asking the question of you, if a federal court orders the release of a detainee, are you saying that we should defy the wishes of that court and defy the Constitution? We are proceeding under the rule of law. We are working effectively with other governments and we believe we are doing everything we possibly can do to protect American security interests and those around the world. But recognize this: when criminals leave prison after serving a sentence, some of them return to crime. You know, we actually expected this to happen and we are taking appropriate --

MACCALLUM: But the comparison you are making would suggest that we believe this is a sort of a federal law enforcement issue and not a time of war issue and I want to be clear on that.

CROWLEY: Well, Martha, under your logic that would mean we'd never let anybody out of prison.

MACCALLUM: During a time of war, when this person is an enemy combatant, perhaps not.

CROWLEY: We are a nation of laws and we are going to work to protect our interests, and we are going to make sure that going forward, that our detention policies are consistent with U.S. law.
Geez! They actually were expecting these results and still went ahead and released them? For shame. And Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, is similarly unperturbed about the report when Jake Tapper asked if there would be any shift in policy due to the results of this report.
GIBBS: Right. Look, I think that we will certainly continue, based on all sorts of information coming from all over the world in order to make determinations about the likelihood that some are more susceptible to -- upon leaving Guantanamo Bay, whether they're more susceptible to returning to terrorism. I have no doubt that they will continue -- to continue to evaluate that.

Obviously -- and I have not read the full report, but you know, in a number of these -- in some cases -- and I don't -- again, I'm not -- I don't want to take these five; I don't know the exact reasoning behind -- I -- go back and look at the report. But you know, in many cases -- in some cases, some of the transfers have been -- some of the transfers are required by law because there is not either sufficient evidence with which to charge individuals and there's not sufficient reason to continue to hold them.
There you have it - no change in policy even if it is a sure thing that a substantial number of the men they're releasing will be returning to terrorism. And remember, the men who are left in Gitmo are the worst of the worst. Those with better hopes of eschewing terrorism have already been released. As Stephen Hayes writes,
If Crowley is telling the truth, and the administration expected this reinvigoration of the anti-American jihad and chose it anyway, that’s an extraordinary admission. If the administration did not expect this, they weren’t paying attention to the many warnings – from the military, from the intelligence community, from outside experts – that foretold this eventuality.

What’s clear is this: If they continue to release and transfer the terrorists who remain at Guantanamo – again, the worst of the worst – they will be strengthening the enemy. And at some point, after one of those former Guantanamo detainees takes part in a major terrorist attack, there is one thing no one in the Obama administration will be willing to say.

“We actually expected this to happen.”
Words that could return to haunt all of us.

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