Editor's note: The Defense Department reports that up to 14 percent of detainees suspected of terrorism and held by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay turn to terrorism when they get out of custody. The numbers are alarming. But are they accurate?
Peter Bergen says no. The CNN National Security Analyst believes the recidivism rate for suspected terrorists is far lower than the 14 percent estimate from the Pentagon. Together with his colleagues at The New American Foundation, Bergen concludes that less than 3 percent of released detainees engage in attacks or attempted attacks against the U.S. citizens or interests.
And there is more, as Peter tells us in his dispatch below:
CNN National Security Analyst
This is what we have concluded based on analysis of press reports, previous DoD statements and al Qaeda or Taliban statements.
Instead of a 14 percent recidivism rate, we found a TOTAL rate of 8 percent - even if you include people making anit-American statements when they got freed.
When you take out those people and guys who joined insurgencies or terror groups that aren't anti-American-focused, the real number is no more than 3 percent. Here's the raw data:
Of 534 detainees released, 13 have engaged in insurgent groups that attack or attempt to attack the U.S., U.S. citizens or U.S. bases abroad. That's 2.4 percent.
Thirteen more engaged in insurgent groups that attack or attempt to attack non-U.S. targets. That's another 2.4 percent.
And 18 more got involved in anti-American propaganda or criticism of the U.S. government or military - but not in terrorism. That's another 3.4 percent.
If you add them up, you can conclude the recidivism rate is 8 percent. But more realistically, no more than 3 percent have gotten involved in groups that engage in anti-American violence. About 5 percent TOTAL are engaged with violent groups anywhere in the world. AND a not surprising 3-4 percent who get involved in anti American propaganda activities.
By comparison, the recidivism rate for convicts coming out of U.S. prisons is about 60 percent.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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