The plan to close the prison facilities at Guantanamo Bay got a cold dose of reality when a new report from the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) noted Wednesday that more releases will be accompanied by more terror, plain and simple.
The report concludes, through “the consensus view of the Intelligence Community,” that 17.9 percent of the 647 detainees who were so far released have returned to a life of active terrorism. Also included is a prediction that rates will continue to climb if the Obama administration decides to release more detainees.
“Based on trends identified during the past eleven years, we assess that some detainees currently at GTMO will seek to reengage in terrorist or insurgent activities after they are transferred,” the report stated.
This predicted rate of increase won’t be affected by attempts to deter a return to terrorism, the report argues, and only last year, the U.S. identified 12 more detainees, 6 released under Bush and 6 released under Obama, who are now back in the fight. The DNI concludes that former detainees tend to reach out and communicate with each other, as well as their previous associates. Sometimes the communication ends up being innocuous, but other times, with roughly 30 percent of releases, the communication is dedicated to terror activities.
Just this past January, Republican Senators clashed with the Obama administration over how to interpret recidivism data from Guantanamo. Senator John McCain of Arizona argued that 30 percent of former detainees have “re-entered the fight,” but Clifford Sloan, a former lawyer for the State Department, who resigned in December, said that the 30 percent figure conflates two separate categories—those who are suspected to have re-engaged with terrorism and those confirmed.
The DNI defines the term “suspected” as:
Plausible but unverified or single-source reporting indicating a specific former GTMO detainee is directly involved in terrorist or insurgent activities. For the purposes of this definition, engagement in anti-US statements or propaganda does not qualify as terrorist or insurgent activity.
The new report confirms that the rate of 29 percent of suspected and confirmed terrorism has dipped slightly to 28.6 percent, mostly because of the recent spate of 33 released prisoners over the past year. The decline in the “suspected” has brought the figure down, despite a small increase in the “confirmed” category. Since the DNI requires very clear evidence of terrorist activities, the Center for Security Policy argues that the number is almost certainly higher because the definitions of confirmed and suspected “require evidence of direct involvement in terrorist activities and exclude communications with terrorist groups or engaging in anti-U.S. propaganda.”
At this point, only 122 detainees remain. The Obama administration’s goal is to push that number below 100.