Debunking the Pentagon's Gitmo Detainee Recidivism Claims

You've probably read the claims by the Defense Department that 61 of the released Guantanamo detainees have returned to terrorism.

Not so, says a new report from the Seton Hall Law School's Center for Policy and Research (and Law Prof Mark Denbeaux and attorney Joshua Denbeaux). The Denbaux' have previously authored compelling reports on the detainees and represented a few of them.

The Seton Hall Center for Policy and Research has issued a report which rebuts and debunks the most recent claim by the Department of Defense (DOD) that “61 in all former Guantanamo detainees are confirmed or suspected of returning to the fight.”

Professor Denbeaux of the Center for Policy & Research has said that the Center has determined that “DOD has issued “recidivism” numbers 43 times, and each time they have been wrong—this last time the most egregiously so.”


Denbeaux explains:

“Once again, they’ve failed to identify names, numbers, dates, times, places, or acts upon which their report relies. Every time they have been required to identify the parties, they have been forced to retract their false ID’s and their numbers. They have included people who have never even set foot in Guantanamo —much less were they released from there. They have counted people as “returning to the fight” for having written an Op-ed piece in the New York Times and for having appeared in a documentary exhibited at the Cannes Film Festival. They have revised and retracted their internally conflicting definitions, criteria, and their numbers so often that they have ceased to have any meaning— except as an effort to sway public opinion by painting a false portrait of the supposed dangers of these men.

Fourty-three times they have given numbers—which conflict with each other—all of which are seriously undercut by the DOD statement that “they do not track” former detainees. Rather than making up numbers “willy-nilly” about post release conduct, America might be better served if our government actually kept track of them.”

The full report is here.

The first report is here (pdf) and the second report is here (pdf.).

< The Media Is Not Good At Its Job | Why The Torture Issue Can't Be Swept Under The Rug >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    It's interesting (5.00 / 5) (#1)
    by Steve M on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 11:38:56 PM EST
    Even if the data were correct, it wouldn't suggest to me what the administration wants it to suggest, that these are dangerous people at Guantanamo.  It would suggest to me that our government doesn't have the first clue which of the prisoners is a bad guy and which isn't, or they wouldn't be letting so many dangerous people go.

    Or as a FARK headline put it (5.00 / 5) (#2)
    by jerry on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 11:57:31 PM EST
    Pentagon says at least 61 people released from Gitmo returned to terrorism. So not only are they imprisoning innocent people but they're also releasing terrorists. No wonder they're closing the place down (I love FARK.  Wish they would ban me permanently so I could get some work done.)

    Anyway, my question is how many of those "returning" to terrorism or becoming terrorists were radicalized in Gitmo because of our horrendous treatment.

    I certainly don't approve of terrorism, but I can kind of understand how rotten treatment might lead to prisoners wanting to fight the US later.


    Exactly... (none / 0) (#4)
    by kdog on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 11:04:57 AM EST
    if they were innocent going in, I'd be surprised if they didn't come out violent radicals hell bent on doing some damage to Uncle Sam...I'd file it under natural, understandable response.

    Then you believe that it is (none / 0) (#9)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 03:55:35 PM EST
    okay to take take the law in your own hands if you feel that you have been wronged.

    And what is your problem with "torture?"


    Sometimes, hell yeah... (5.00 / 0) (#18)
    by kdog on Sat Jan 17, 2009 at 09:28:22 AM EST
    when the law fails, you can get your justice yourself or live with it, those are your options.

    The guys who hijacked the planes all died Jim, and since the government is often unwilling to share their evidence against those detained, none of whom were on the planes, it is a case of Uncle Sam's word against theirs.  And I'm sorry to say that any random Arab sovereign individual has more credibility with me than Uncle Sam.


    wow (none / 0) (#21)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jan 17, 2009 at 01:35:16 PM EST
    If we ever set down over a beer you can tell me what did this to you.

    Not done to me... (5.00 / 0) (#23)
    by kdog on Sun Jan 18, 2009 at 06:44:21 AM EST
    Done to us Jim.  You've been around longer than I old friend, don't tell me you trust the federal government after all you've lived through and seen in your life in regards to Uncle Sam.

    as usual jim, (5.00 / 0) (#24)
    by cpinva on Sun Jan 18, 2009 at 06:55:56 AM EST
    Then you believe that it is
    okay to take take the law in your own hands if you feel that you have been wronged.

    your nearly complete lack of reading and comprehension skills is wonderfully on display.

    kdog implied nothing of the sort. he said he could understand how, after years of abuse, with no recourse at all, someone might turn to terrorism as a means of exacting some measure of perceived justice. nowhere did he condone it.

    you either didn't know that, and are just not very bright (you can't fix stupid), or you projected your own position onto kdog's clearly stated one.

    we'll make the call!


    One of the ideas behind (none / 0) (#10)
    by jondee on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 04:04:05 PM EST
    having govts is that there are rational people who are able to override "natural responces" in favor of more rational, informed plans of action.

    Sounds like you want to people in there who respond the way an abused prisoner would respond.


    I really hate to pay you too much attention (2.00 / 0) (#13)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 05:32:14 PM EST
    since my comment was a gentle goose at kdog for his mostly Libertarian positions on a variety of thing... which follows that if you think that being locked up unjustly means it is okay to take the law in your hands, then what is wrong with a little torture by those unjustly attacked on 9/11?????

    But where I would enjoy a bit of back and forth with him, any discussion with you is almost totally a waste of time, as demonstrated by your ramblings above.

    Now, have a super night.


    Again racing (or following) (none / 0) (#11)
    by jondee on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 04:07:27 PM EST
    the lowest common denominator to the bottom.

    'Cept in this case, we vote 'em into office.


    See (none / 0) (#12)
    by Wile ECoyote on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 04:12:57 PM EST

    To make explicit what you correctly imply ... (none / 0) (#5)
    by Peter G on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 11:31:46 AM EST
    Note that the expression "returning" makes the assumption that each of them was a "terrorist" in the first place, which may or may not be so, given the circumstances under which many of the detainees wound up there.  

    My immediate response to that story (none / 0) (#15)
    by inclusiveheart on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 07:45:42 PM EST
    was that all it showed was that this secret military commissions "judicial" system must be deeply flawed - AND that torture gets people really pissed off.

    But I also have to say that I had a hard time believing the study.

    If the Bush Administration told me that the sky was blue, I'd have to check.  They have lost all credibility and that is saying something since they had little to begin with at the very start.  Dick Cheney was not an unknown quantity to me and my family in 2000 - nor were the members of the Bush family...


    Credibility (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by mmc9431 on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 07:05:50 AM EST
    Why would anyone believe anything that comes out of the mouths of these people? After eight years of being lied to at every turn, they have zero credibility. I hope this last ditch effort to gloss over (or bury) their many crimes isn't allowed to succeed.

    Common sense (none / 0) (#6)
    by diogenes on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 12:28:19 PM EST
    Most soldiers who are POW's will return to the front if released.  Why is it so hard to imagine that people picked up in the front in Afghanistan will also return to the front?

    You tell me (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Steve M on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 01:18:05 PM EST
    Why is it so tough for people to understand, 7 years later, that Guantanamo is not full of nothing but people who were "picked up on the front"?

    It isn't hard at all to imagine (1.00 / 0) (#14)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 05:43:12 PM EST
    that, and this link provides some actual names and examples.

    Which leads me to, after reading the "reports" to say, "What is their point?"

    The only answer I can think of is that the arguments are being made to first make the government look confused between DOS and DOD, and this shore the argument that these people need further vetting and more reviews. I stop short on saying they just want them released, but I do say that their level of proof, which appears to be based on our justice system, is almost impossible to obtain in a wartime situation, and in fact I see no Constitutional requirement for non-citizens.

    Thus any examples or claims that some will return to attempt to kill Americans must be dismissed.


    I've long thought that (none / 0) (#16)
    by inclusiveheart on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 07:47:53 PM EST
    they pick names and photos out of high school year books - that a lot of the people they talk about don't actually exist.

    Really? (none / 0) (#17)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 09:27:58 PM EST
    How many people are involved in this conspiracy?

    I was being somewhat sarscastic - (none / 0) (#19)
    by inclusiveheart on Sat Jan 17, 2009 at 11:26:30 AM EST
    although when they were claiming to have killed the "number two" Al Qaeda man in Iraq weekly, I did wonder why just about all the pictures they showed of these people looked exactly like high school year book photos - and how they got the photos - it isn't like these people's mothers were going to be inviting American CIA agents into their homes to go through the family photo albums.

    The real point is though that there has been plenty of proven conspiracy within the Bush Administration for one to have serious doubts about any and all claims that they have made.  They took this country to war on a lie - it isn't like lying about progress or set backs or whatever is going to matter to them much after that kind of big lie is told.

    So you ask how many?  I think someone wrote a book called 101 refering to the number of people who participated fully - although I haven't read it and I don't actually have the desire to count heads - it is too depressing really to think how many people willingly and enthusiastically participated in the Bush Administration's criminal activities.


    Uh... it (none / 0) (#22)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jan 17, 2009 at 01:39:46 PM EST
    works like this... kill #2 and #3 moves up... kill #2 and #3 moves up...

    And specifically what conspiracies are you claiming?

    That Bush lied and men died?? Puleeezeeee. Surely you don't believe such nonsense...

    It appears that you still suffer from BDS. Take two aspirins and wait for The Chosen One to cleanse you.


    Sigh. (none / 0) (#25)
    by inclusiveheart on Sun Jan 18, 2009 at 06:34:38 PM EST
    I am sorry for you.

    I have no "Chosen One" in my life.

    That is why it was not hard for me to see Bush/Cheney for who they were.  It didn't hurt that I grew up in DC and had long experience with the Bush and Cheney families' dealings here.

    Some of us in this country were not nearly as surprised as others were by their "choices".

    No derangement here - just stark reality about who, what, where, when and why.


    Recidivism (none / 0) (#8)
    by blogtopus on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 03:08:21 PM EST
    One wonders how long it will take all the retired GOP pols to return to a life of crime?

    Who says they were leaving it? (none / 0) (#20)
    by inclusiveheart on Sat Jan 17, 2009 at 11:28:07 AM EST
    They are likely just shifting their physical location, but other than that I'd expect more of the same from them to the degree they can get away with it without full access to the powers of the US government.