Tuesday :: Feb 2, 2010

ALL "Recidivist" Gitmo Detainees Were Released By Bush

by Turkana

File this one as great politics and terrible framing. As explained by Jake Tapper:

In a letter to congressional leaders sent Monday night, White House adviser John Brennan, the assistant to President Obama for homeland security and counterterrorism, argued that President Obama had made "significant improvements to the detainee review process" under President Bush and pointed out that all the former detainees released or transferred who have returned to terrorist activities were released or transferred under President Bush.

Brennan met with members of Congress on January 13, and in a follow-up letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., obtained by ABC News, Brennan writes that the "Intelligence Community assesses that 20 percent of detainees transferred from Guantanamo are confirmed or suspected of recidivist activity."

This includes 9.6 percent of detainees who have been confirmed as having returned to terrorist activities, and 10.4 percent whom the Intelligence Community "suspects, but is not certain, may have engaged in recidivist activities."

Several points come immediately to mind, the first being that this is a very important point to make, given the dishonest and hypocritical sniping by members of the Bush Administration. Once again, it proves that it was the Bushies that endangered national security, not the Obama Administration. It also underscores that the Obama team is doing a better job of figuring out who is and isn't a potential threat. In other words, we can trust the Obama Administration to close Gitmo without causing any new problems. A critical point to emphasize. But this also gets to the problem with the framing.

When Brennan writes of recidivist activity, it undermines the concept of rule of law. Because not one Gitmo detainee ever has been convicted of any crime; and in strict legal terms, one cannot honestly say someone has returned to criminal activity when that someone never was a convicted criminal, in the first place. This terrible framing also misses another legitimate criticism of the Bush approach. Because given what we know about how some of the detainees were detained, and how some were treated both before and during their incarceration at Gitmo, it's a safe guess that even some people who had been innocent of any previous crimes decided to become criminals because of that treatment. People don't like being tortured. It makes them angry. Sometimes, it makes them want to exact revenge.

So, let's by all means trumpet the news that the only released Gitmo detainees that are now suspected to have gone on to engage in terrorist activity were released by the Bush-Cheney Administration. But let's not call it recidivism. All we apparently know for certain is that the Bush-Cheney team set loose on the world people who are now suspected of engaging in terrorism. And that's the way to frame it.

Turkana :: 1:13 PM :: Comments (5) :: Digg It!