More ex-Gitmo detainees returning to terrorism: Pentagon

An official from the US Department of Defense said Jan. 6 that about one in five detainees freed from the US military prison at Guantánamo Bay have returned to terrorist activities, according to a new Pentagon report. The report, which remains classified, shows an increase from the 14% recidivism rate reported last spring. That number was up from 11% in December 2008. The report was completed in late December, and officials have not released the raw numbers on which the 20% figure is based. Many human rights groups dispute the numbers, calling them inflated, and some reports have suggested that many Guantánamo detainees are innocent, never having engaged in terrorist activities in the first place. (Jurist, Jan. 7)

As we’ve asked before: Is it surprising that someone who spent years at Gitmo should perhaps be a wee bit teed off at the USA?

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  1. it’s important to ask
    it’s important to ask exactly what the pentagon considers as “returned to terrorist activities”, not just in the sense that many ex-prisoners never had anything to do with “terrorism” in the first place, but what actions are considered as “returning to terrorism”? the three men who participated in the film “The Road to Guantanamo” are considered to have returned to terrorism. All they’ve done was make it widely known the horrors they went through. that’s terrorism?

  2. Good catch
    Shayana Kadidal, attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, writing for Huffington Post, makes the point. He notes that the Pentagon issued a report on the question in July 2007 which

    includes the “anti‐coalition militant activities” the detainees are supposed to have participated in. Included: three English detainees whose “militant” activity was participating in the making of Michael Winterbottom’s movie The Road to Guantanamo and seeking damages for their torture in U.S. courts, and five Uighurs, shipped off to Albania to forestall a court hearing on their release in 2006 and living in a run-down refugee camp there, whose crime was to complain to Tim Golden of the…New York Times about their miserable condition.

    In fairness, the July 2007 report’s preamble claims that “anti‐coalition militant activities” can include “participat[ion] in anti‐US propaganda or other activities”—but the report never bothers to sort out the total number of those who have “returned to the battlefield” through the militant activity of…typing. Or talking to a reporter.

    Outrageous cynicism. Mark Denbeaux of Seton Hall Law School also made the point when the Pentagon released the 14% figure last year, and actually got some media play. Let’s hope some reporters with Pentagon access will raise this question before the angle goes down the Memory Hole. And if the Pentagon is still pulling this trick, let’s hope Obama isn’t falling for it.