Yet the DNI report has stated that since January 2009, 66 terrorists have been released, with 5 either confirmed or suspected as returning to reengage in terrorist activities. This comes despite the administration’s own insistence earlier in 2010 that none of the detainees it had released had returned back to the terrorist fold. In a February 2010 letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, John Brennan had written:
“I want to underscore the fact that all of these cases relate to detainees released during the previous Administration and under the prior detainee review process. The report indicates no confirmed or suspected recidivists among detainees transferred during this Administration.”
Of course, to find this now not to be the case comes as little surprise to critics who have claimed the Obama administration has been long relaxing the review process in order to drain the facility of detainees as quickly as possible.
Intelligence analysts have been on record accusing the Obama administration of purposely minimizing the dangers associated with transferring detainees by rewriting the threat assessments given to them by military and intelligence officials
For its own part, the DNI defended the current review process in its report, stating “every decision to transfer a detainee to a foreign country under this review was made after a full assessment of intelligence and threat information.”
However, the DNI also acknowledges that even the most stringent review won’t prevent a return to jihad by some detainees, reporting that “based on trends identified during the past six years, the Intelligence Community further assesses that if additional detainees are transferred from GITMO, some of them will reengage in terrorist or insurgent activities.”
That seems like a gamble the US government has been willing to take as it has been furiously trying to find new overseas homes for its detainee population for some time. This fact was unfortunately detailed through the damaging disclosure of documents publicized by Wikileaks that cited a long standing effort begun under the Bush administration and continued by Obama to pressure foreign governments into taking detainees from Guantanamo.
These efforts included offering millions of dollars in aid to the island nation of Kirabati if it would take in Chinese Muslim detainees; informing Belgium that acceptance of detainees would constitute “a low-cost way to gain prominence in Europe”; and efforts to get Canada to take Omar Khadr, who had already confessed to five counts of war crimes, including the murder of an American soldier in Afghanistan.
Despite these diligent attempts to secure foreign terrorist housing, many nations still remain reluctant to take in the detainees, which makes a lot of sense given that the United States has no desire to house them on its soil either.
In the end, however, it probably matters less where the remaining and/or future detainees at Guantanamo are taken to anyway, but rather more important what happens to them once they get there. For, if that trip happens to include a scheduled release, as the DNI report so starkly reveals, then sooner or later we all, unfortunately, will be seeing them again.
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