I don't know if this was explicitly clear in my last post, but bipartisan alarmism over Gitmo recidivism notwithstanding, it's very clear that the Obama administration is doing a much better job of identifying which detainees pose a future danger than the Bush administration. Not that this piece over at the Weekly Standard would leave you with that impression:
The DNI’s latest assessment is a significant increase over previous estimates. In June 2008, the Department of Defense reported that 37 former detainees were “confirmed or suspected” of returning to terrorism. On January 13, 2009 -- seven months later -- Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said that number had climbed to 61. As of April 2009, the DoD found that same metric had risen further to 74 -- exactly double the Pentagon's estimate just 11 months before.
Here are the recidivism rates for detainees released during each administration:
Bush: Confirmed and suspected: 27.2% - Confirmed 14.8% (79 of 532); Suspected 12.8% (68 of 532)
Obama: Confirmed and suspected: 7.5% - Confirmed 3% (2 of 66); Suspected 4.5% (3 of 66)
Bush released a much larger number of detainees than Obama, but given that the Bush administration did an exceptionally poor job of handling the information it had gathered on those it was detaining while publicly declaring them all to be the "worst of the worst," it's not surprising that Obama's numbers are lower. He did, after all, create an entire task force to evaluate the evidence against each detainee as part of his effort to close Gitmo. Nevertheless, compared to recidivism rates in the U.S., Bush's numbers are still relatively low. A national recidivism rate of 27.5 percent would be a freaking miracle.
Again, "recidivism" is a weird term because most of these people haven't been convicted, and we're adding people who are merely "suspected" of engaging in terrorist activities to the overall number. It's entirely possible some of them aren't "recidivating" but were radicalized by their experience at Gitmo. Continuing to confine people for that reason, though, draws some obvious moral questions, since it justifies future detention not on past behavior but on what occurred as a result of detention.
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