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Of the Alleged 74 Terror Recidivists, Why are Only Five ‘Verifiable?’

To follow up on Spencer’s post about today’s New York Times story citing a secret Pentagon report that finds that “1 in 7 Rejoin Jihadists After Release,” it’s worth noting that not only has the Pentagon not provided any way of knowing who 45 of the 74 alleged recidivists are, but apparently only five of those named — that’s it, five — “have engaged in verifiable terrorists activity or have threatened terrorist acts.”

So now we’ve gone from 74 prisoners released from Guantanamo that “have returned to terrorism or military activity,” according to the Pentagon, but only 5 of those are verifiable? On what evidence is the Pentagon basing the other 69? Is it the same sort of evidence that the government used to hold people in Guantanamo that judges have lately been saying is wholly insufficient, such as that the person was arrested while staying at a guest house where some al-Qaeda operatives also stayed? (That was the bulk of the flimsy evidence used to imprison Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed, which a federal court judge recently said was not sufficient. Apparently lots of innocent university students stayed there, too.)

It’s worth noting that the 534 prisoners were released by President Bush, not President Obama, and most releases did not follow any sort of systematic review of the danger they pose, but were usually based on whether the U.S. government could negotiate a deal with their native country to take them back. So if any of them were plotting anything against the United States, it’s not all that surprising that the Bush administration’s system of returning them didn’t weed those individuals out.

By contrast, the Obama administration has released only two Guantanamo prisoners so far. It’s worth wondering if this newly leaked report and all its inconclusive speculation is being leaked now to allow President Obama to either keep the Guantanamo prison open beyond the deadline he set in his first days in office, and/or to justify his plans for continued indefinite detention of those prisoners the Pentagon believes are dangerous, but against whom it doesn’t have any solid, “verifiable” evidence.

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