January 23rd, 2009
06:06 PM ET

The worst of the worst?

Program Note: Tune in to hear more from CNN National Security Expert Peter Bergen tonight on AC360° at 10pm ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/01/15/guantanamo.torture/art.gbay.cuba.gi.jpg]

Ken Ballen, Terror Free Tomorrow
Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Expert

Controversy over the Bush Administration’s policy to detain “enemy combatants” at the military’s Guantanamo Bay prison has raged since the facility first opened in 2002. The controversy has been fueled primarily by the lack of legal protections afforded the detainees and allegations of their mistreatment, much of which was subsequently confirmed by the FBI.

Now that President Obama has ordered the prison camp to be closed, additional new controversy swirls around the claim made earlier this month by the Pentagon that 61 Guantanamo detainees are believed to have returned to terrorism.

But that number became a little less alarming when the Pentagon clarified that only 18 of the 61 have been confirmed to be engaging in terrorism, while 43 are “suspected of returning to the fight.”

In other words, according to the Pentagon’s own assessment, of the 520 detainees who have been released, less than 4% have engaged in terrorism. That percentage is quite low, especially contrasted to the more than two-thirds of American prisoners who return to crime within three years of their release from prison.

The Department of Defense has supplied no substantiation for any of its recent assertions about the numbers of detainees engaging in terrorism, and in the past has rather broadly defined what “returning to the fight means” to include acts such as former detainees criticizing the United States after their release from Guantanamo; a not unnatural reaction to years of confinement in a prison camp without charge.

Some detainees released from Guantanamo have undoubtedly engaged in terrorist activists such as Said Ali Al Shiri, a Saudi who was released in September 2007. Like all other Guantanamo detainees released to Saudi custody, he entered a comprehensive reeducation program managed by the Saudi Ministry of the Interior. Of the 75 or so Guantanamo detainees that have gone through this program and have subsequently been released, al Shiri is the first one known to have returned to terrorism. After al Shiri was released last year, he left Saudi Arabia for Yemen and is now allegedly a leader of al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate.

Similarly, Abdulalh Salih al Ajimi, a Kuwaiti held in Guantanamo for three years, conducted a suicide attack on April 26 2008 in the Iraqi city of Mosul killing six, including two Iraqi police officers.

And Abdulalh Mehsud, a Pashtun from Pakistan’s tribal areas spent two years in Guantanamo. He was released in March 2004 and promptly kidnapped two Chinese engineers working in the tribal region. Mehsud subsequently rose to become a leader of the Pakistani Taliban and was eventually killed by Pakistani forces on July 24 2007.

But these are exceptional cases because the overwhelming majority of Guantanamo detainees were never really “enemy combatants” in the first place.

Given the fog of propaganda surrounding the Guantanamo prisoners –who Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once famously described as “the worst of the worst"– it may be surprising to learn that, according to the Pentagon itself, only 5 percent of all detainees at Guantanamo were ever apprehended by U.S. forces to begin with.

Why is that? Almost all of the detainees were turned over to American forces by foreigners, either with an ax to grind, or more often for a hefty bounty or reward. After U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan in late 2001, a reward of $5,000 or more was given to Pakistanis and Afghans for each detainee turned over.

While rewards can be a valuable law enforcement tool, they have never in the past absolved law enforcement authorities of the necessity of corroborating the information that motivated the reward. But the U.S. military accepted the uncorroborated allegations of the award claimants with little independent investigation.

At a very minimum, the Pentagon’s reward policy should have led to heightened scrutiny by the U.S. military of those turned over and not instead to years of confinement.

Now, under much pressure, the Pentagon has released more than 500 detainees over the past three years, while 245 remain. Based on statistics about the fate of other released prisoners around the world, it would not have been surprising if many of the released detainees had resumed their lives of terrorist crimes and illegal warfare.

After all it is a sad fact of our justice system that once a criminal is released from prison, they usually commit additional crimes relatively soon. The latest numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics show that more than two-thirds of all state prisoners are re-arrested for serious new crimes within three years.

Terrorists are criminals too—indeed ideologically committed ones. Every reasonable expectation would lead to the conclusion that following release from prison, the rate of recidivism for terrorists should be as high, if not higher, as other criminals.

But only a handful of released Guantanamo detainees have gone back to terrorism or the battlefield.

For years Pentagon officials have claimed that the recidivism rate for Guantanamo releases is around seven percent, yet information released by the Pentagon in May 2008 undercuts that claim. The Department of Defense published a list of named released detainees who had subsequently engaged in militant or terrorist activities anywhere in the world that showed that thirteen had done so, a recidivism rate of just 2 percent.

In fact, based on the Pentagon’s own May 2008 account of the released detainees who had “returned to terrorism” there are only six instances where an inmate released from Guantanamo actually took up arms against the United States, a recidivism rate of around 1%.

When recidivism rates for criminals typically run in the more than 60 percent range, and at Guantanamo you have a rate of only 1-2 percent, that means you don’t have much of a criminal (or in this case terrorist) population to begin with.

We are not saying that there are no terrorists being detained at Guantanamo. Khalid Sheik Mohammad, the operational commander of the 9/11 attacks, and others who were transferred to Guantanamo from secret overseas CIA prisons in 2006 are certainly members of al Qaeda’s hard core.

What we are saying is that for the vast majority of individuals detained at Guantanamo not only were they not terrorists, but they were likely innocent of any crime.

Editor's note: Ken Ballen is a former federal prosecutor and president of the non-profit organization Terror Free Tomorrow. Peter Bergen is CNN’s national security analyst, and author, Holy War Inc. and The Osama bin Laden I Know.

soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. Tim

    This notion that those at Gitmo were not terrorists is beyond absurd, its simply alarming! These terrorists have been in detention for about 6 years give or take. Their conditions have constantly been reported as being terrible, when in fact their conditions are much better than inmates in many US Prisons. Gitmo has simply been a great place to attack the Bush Administration from the left as it was a place where average americans could not see or would not see in their lifetimes. Now this is simply being written as a parting shot at Bush and a spike for the incoming president, the journalist (?) doesnt care about our country, just THEIR agenda.

    January 24, 2009 at 12:14 am |
  2. jim Fallbrook CA

    I am not sure if Peter Gergan is a National Security Expert if he thinks the detainees at GITMO should be given their Miranda rights and a criminal trial.Now Peter, they didn't rob a bank!!! I wonder how he would like it if they transfered them close to where he lives. These prisoners are not only enemy combatants. They can be considered spies. As we all know, terrorists, insurgents and Al Qaeda do not wear uniforms. They should not come under the rules of the Geneva convention. It was put in place for conventional wars not terrorist or guerilla wars. Peter Gergan the so-called National Security Expert knows it. For some reason, he thinks we should treat them as criminals. Give me a break. I think the prisoners at GITMO should all be executed and the world will be much better off for it.

    January 24, 2009 at 12:14 am |
  3. Kyle from Kentucky

    I do truly believe that a vast majority of the detainees are not terrorists, or even enemy combatants. There are tons of what seems like very plausible commentary about how people were paid to pick up "terrorist" or "enemy combatants" and then in turn be the ones who were either attacking American forces, or be causing problems with other inhabitants and taking the money to fund their own terrorist organization. The problem is that with all the outrageous torture and enhanced interrogation techniques done against these people who are more than likely innocence when they entered Gitmo, will mostly likely led these people to now engage in terrorist activities, so thanks to the Bush Administration and their water board and ask questions later policy we are now stuck with a large group of people at Gitmo that now we won't know what they will do once they are released, if they are found to be innocence, until we see them on an Al-Qaeda video claiming Death to America, or until we found their remains under rumble after the did a suicide bombing. Bet we do need to close Gitmo, put these men to a fair trial and psychological evaluation and find a place for them. I mean if we can hold Charles Manson in prison, we can hold these people in prisons.

    January 24, 2009 at 12:13 am |
  4. Gary

    If their detention, and torturing, saves the lives of American soldiers and American citizens, then great! I have other things to concern myself with. Let those murdering bastards rot.

    January 24, 2009 at 12:11 am |
  5. Harold

    Those who can't be proven guilty after all these years should be set free and even be financially reinbursed for the unjust hardship caused them. I can't understand why some people don't get a simple concept like "innocent until proven guilty." That doesn't just apply to Americans. America has been pushing those ideals upon the rest of the world since it's inception.

    When I was younger, I really believed the whole "home of the free and the brave" routine. Such a shame to see that some Americans are so willing to throw out that promise of freedom and justice just because they are scared. The home of the brave has now become the home of the cowards. Thank you for that, Bush! Shame on those of you whom so willingly sell out those ideals for which braver americans have long fought and died.

    I'm an american, and a veteran of a foreign war. I once swore an oath to defend the american way of life against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I always wondered what a "domestic enemy" was. Now I know. Let's keep those innocent prisoners (and only the innocent ones) here in the United states, and lock up some of these loud-mouthed, cowardly, domestic enemies in Gitmo.

    January 24, 2009 at 12:09 am |
  6. Debnericr

    It is much easier to keep statistics on "U.S. citizen" prisoners who are released back into the U. S. How can anyone know with 100% certainty what all prisoners released from gitmo are up to on a daily basis? They are dispersed to other parts of the world and are not monitored 24/7. The fact that so far most have not resurfaced in a high profile position, does not mean they are not collaborating with other terrorists, plotting future attacks. I'm sure too that those remaining in gitmo represent the worst of the bunch, which is why they are still there. Where will they end up now? Terrorism and hatred towards America began long before 9/11, in fact long before most Obama supporters were even born. What makes anyone think being "nice" to terrorists is going to suddenly cause them to change their hearts towards Americans? Look how they treat their own women and daughters who stray beyond their religeous boundries.

    January 24, 2009 at 12:08 am |
  7. Eric

    Anderson Cooper has done some exceptional reporting over the past few years, and he's an outstanding journalist. Therefore, with regard to the Guantanamo blog, I was stunned to see such a smart, disciplined guy reason in such a foolish, haphazard way.

    I think Anderson and I would agree on the same conclusion: we want Guantanamo closed as soon as possible. But using sloppy statistics and sloppy logic to support that conclusion tends to destroy the credibililty of the conclusion.

    For example, with regard to rates of recidivism, you can't just say "hey, only a small percentage of past Guantanamo prisoners were dangrous, therefore only a small percentage of current Guantanamo prisoners are dangerous." I mean, come on. What if the past prisoners were released because they were deemed to be "low risk"? And what if the current prisoners are still locked up because they are deemed to be "high risk?" Come on. Don't begin with the conclusion. Begin with the evidence.

    Hey, even great journalists can make mistakes. Anderson Cooper and Christiane Amanpour are two of the best journalists in the entire world. Way to go CNN!

    January 23, 2009 at 11:52 pm |
  8. Jacki

    I very much respect your "take" on Gitmo and the released prisoners, etc. Here are my thoughts:

    I have the greatest regard for our new President! He's the person I've fought for being in "Office" my entire life! I have every confidence in his decisions that I've not felt from my CIC prior to this admin.

    Closing the prison at Gitmo is appropriate, IMHO.
    I know there are glitches in the Geneva Convention (it only covers active duty military)
    however, if any other country treated our people (POWs) as we've treated others, would we not be in a human rights uproar?

    The "64" btw, who were released, can be easily replaced.

    January 23, 2009 at 11:52 pm |
  9. Michelle

    Larry, it doesn't mean they did either!!! See this attitude is exactly why America is now held such low regard around the world. Your principles are only used for yourselves or when it's handy to point out to the rest of the world they have it allllllllll wrong.

    Gitmo is holding a bunch of men who you have no idea of the guilt or innocence of. Why? because no trials have taken place for them and because they were tortured. Now as any thinking person can reason, people will confess to almost anything when being tortured. Isn't it amazing how waterboarding was wrong for the Vietamanese to do to Americans but it's okay for Americans to use it. Such hypocrisy is breathtaking. You are holding a man who was 15 years old when he entered Gitmo. Supposedly he threw a grenade which killed an American soldier in a firefight. Just how one can determine exactly who did what in a firefight is beyond me but hey apparently American soldiers pay really close attention when fighting for their lives!!!

    January 23, 2009 at 11:50 pm |
  10. quechan

    A very good article that the ideologues among us will reject. It's been clear than a number of these detainees were turned over to get the reward and we took their word they were turning over bad guys. The numbers don't lie. Gitmo had few of the worst of the worst and should have been restricted to them.

    January 23, 2009 at 11:49 pm |
  11. Chris

    It only took 10 terrorists to drive two planes into the The Twin Towers killing over 2,600 American citizens. In the Oklahoma City bombing the vicious attack only took 2 people to take 168 lives and injure 800 others. It is important to note how few people it takes to cause true terror. 4% is 4% too much (if that is a true figure to begin with).

    January 23, 2009 at 11:49 pm |
  12. Brad Wallace

    The mass release of known terrorists, who are commanded by their religious leaders to kill as many Americans (infidels) as possible, by our President, is an abomination. In three days we have become a nation of appeasers and wimps the likes of which the world has not seen since Chamberlin. Reagan is rolling in is grave right now.

    January 23, 2009 at 11:48 pm |
  13. Wayne

    I think we can all agree that we don't want to imprison those who did nothing wrong. But if we open Pandoras box and we are given a blow of an epic nature once again ,because the US is influenced by feeling instead of sound judgement. Don't stand on the side lines saying we should have done more.

    January 23, 2009 at 11:44 pm |
  14. Ryan

    Well how the U.S govt knows everyone in Gitmo is indeed from a group Al-qaida? does US govt has a list of all al-qaida operatives? if so then why had to arrest innocent ppl and had them in jail for more than 5 years before they let them go.....

    Ok, They have 62 real terrorist, it means they had more than 700 innocent ppl locked up for years, who should we held accountable who locked innocent ppl for years w/o any trial. They are humanso dont they deserve justice under american laws? since americans were the one who hold them in a first place?

    January 23, 2009 at 11:39 pm |
  15. JC-Los Angeles

    Judging from the horrid state of our nation and the decimated financial portfolios of so many citizens, it's becoming harder and harder to argue that the inhabitants of Guantanamo Bay rather than endless executives, politicians and leaders are our enemy combatants.

    January 23, 2009 at 11:37 pm |
  16. Anthony Ramirez

    By the way, for you all screaming Iraq is the reason get a clue. We were attacked on three seperate occasions before 911 even happened. Don't let your hate for Bush make you naive.

    January 23, 2009 at 11:35 pm |
  17. Anthony Ramirez

    Are you kidding me? I don't care what the percentage of released Guantanamo inmates who returned to terrorism are. The fact remains it took three seperate groups of eight to bring down the World Trade Center and attack the Pentegon let alone the other group the heroic passengers took on in PA. Bergen's a joke and so is his insight. I'm no Bush fan, but I am a realist!! These dudes hate us period. Don't tell me it's are ideals. We have more people trying to get in this country than leave and that's a fact. We can't be that bad.

    January 23, 2009 at 11:33 pm |
  18. John

    A place where some of the most dangerous people,by the way,they also hate American's guts.Why do some people think that they should be set free.What is happening in this country????Some detainees that have been released are already back on station. Go Figure. Maybe these good liberals should have some over for dinner.

    January 23, 2009 at 11:25 pm |
  19. noah mathews

    Those Americans who argue for these gitmo guys are the absolute fools. you guys just dont understand what these people are and believe me, if they get a chance they will surely try to kill you. come on guys, the world has come a long way. things are different. after 911 if the guy caught were kissed and loved instead of being water boarded and all, you just dont know what info you wouldnt have gotten. Be realistic you Americans, if you give afganistan to talibans, iraq to alqaeda, destroy israel and give it all to hamas, these people will next come to The USA to make it sharia law here. then how will most of you live the American dream. these guys can never be satisfied and be made happy. please stop day dreaming and sympathising with these terrorists. All the best to you guys and all the worst to obama and his cronies.

    January 23, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  20. SueB

    I think the Dem members of Congress should adopt them. Either Reid or Pelosi or even better Obama, should get the honor of adopting Khalid Sheik Mohammad. Bring them in to their homes, treat them kindly, and see how quickly they change their ways – NOT! These people hate us simply because we are who we are. They've hated us for years, long before even Reagan, and they are not going to change because we have a prez who wants to talk and play nice. When we talk and play nice we just make their planning to destroy us easier.

    January 23, 2009 at 11:16 pm |
  21. Brad W.

    Some of you are so blinded by your hatred for Bush that you believe any stat anyone throws at you. Bush has done a wonderful job on terrorism, and while he has fallen short in other areas, he certainly deserves more respect than the mindless Bush haters show him. Why don't we put Guantanamo in your back yard, or release all of those sweet innocent people in your home town. It's amazing how many people will hate someone just because someone tells them to.

    January 23, 2009 at 11:15 pm |
  22. Billy

    I can not believe all of the all mighty followers. You want terrorists released back into action. I can not believe this was Obama's first order as pres. The economy is in terrible shape, he spends 4 times the amount for his coming out party than the next highest amount, and his first order is to close Gitmo. Anyone really think this clown is looking out of americans? Maybe those that are too lazy to go get a job. But the rest of us?? Hell no. On the job front, I truely believe that anyone can get a job if they get off their tail. Yes, many have been laid off for very good paying jobs, but if anyone one really wants they can go out and get something. Maybe it doesn't pay as much, but it is work, and it is a check. Instead those of us (yes me) that have been laid off and had to take a lower paying job, has to "share the wealth" for those lazy ones that won't. One last note, are you all ready for socialism? Can anyone tell me the last time socialism work?

    January 23, 2009 at 11:13 pm |
  23. Victoria Poupko

    Even Gitmo is not so bad as the Russian prisons especially for the Chechens, most of whom are serving their 20-25 ear-sentences on the fabricated cases. For one rincle when making bed, prison's guards can hit out teeth or break nose or beat on the head by filled plastic bottles until the prisoner loses his conshiousness.
    Unfortunately very few in the West pay attention to this horrible matter.

    January 23, 2009 at 11:03 pm |
  24. Petty Officer Morale

    After having served more then one tour at this place that houses the worst of the worst I can assure you that the unlucky lot that were captured and brought to live in the cages we housed them in left wanting to join the fight thanks to us. We created plenty of the fanatics that left GTMO. Seen plenty of these guys hit the road after many years of confinement. Were those years of confinement for not even have commited an offense?

    January 23, 2009 at 11:03 pm |
  25. Joanne, Solvay, NY

    Return the detainees to their home....and how many American soldiers will die because of their fueled hatred from the Guantanamo experience?

    January 23, 2009 at 11:01 pm |
  26. Mike

    I just hope none of the releases comes back to haunt us. Another 911 would be completely disastrous.

    January 23, 2009 at 11:00 pm |
  27. Matt

    This is only the first mistake our new President (PO) will make concerning our security. The Dems were in charge when Al-Qaeda was growing in strength and they attacked us. Then everyone said lets go get them, until they found out how hard it would be. Now, PO is going to allow them the grow again and we'll be attacked again. Somehow some stupid Dem will find a way to blame Bush for that too. That's what Dems do, mess things up and blame others. Here we go again.

    January 23, 2009 at 11:00 pm |
  28. Dave Young

    The United States should treat anyone in our custody in a way that we would believe an American in custody should be treated.

    January 23, 2009 at 10:56 pm |
  29. anton

    They should be killed at first place ...

    January 23, 2009 at 10:55 pm |
  30. August

    What a stupid argument this guy is making. Let's say, just for argument's sake that the percentage that returns to terrorism is even lower or that only one of them returns to terror. So, we let him go, he heads up a team of terrorists, and blows up the White House. That is not so bad. The percentage is low, right!

    We are in a time of change in our country. Unfortunately, it may be a change to outright stupidity. Okay, I have said my piece.

    January 23, 2009 at 10:52 pm |
  31. Roberto

    The Harvard educated attorney and his posse (aka enlightened staff ) don't know squat about history. These new leaders are morons. Try reading Winston Churchill's memoirs regarding the secret prisons that MI-5 and MI-6 created during WWII to deal with the Nazi's. Bush didn't create the secret prisons – CHURCHILL did, and the benefits speak for themselves. If protecting Americans is above your pay grade – then step aside and let someone else lead who has the best interest of AMERICANS as their top priority. Remember libs – your Achilles heal will and always will be – your covetness – oh that just isn't fair is it ...

    January 23, 2009 at 10:51 pm |
  32. Jane Winders

    The GITMO detainees are overwhelming dangerous.

    Nearly all are members of terrorist orgnizations with the purpose of conducting a guerrilla war with the United States.

    Most have participated in providing aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States – if not directly killing American soldiers and allies.

    If you think they play nice – you're kidding yourself.

    January 23, 2009 at 10:46 pm |
  33. Rick

    "Terrorists are criminals too—indeed ideologically committed ones. Every reasonable expectation would lead to the conclusion that following release from prison, the rate of recidivism for terrorists should be as high, if not higher, as other criminals."

    It is this kind of ideology that is kills innocent Americans daily. What is an acceptable recidivism rate?? and WHO says that rate is acceptable? It's bad enough that we release career criminals and those that have committed capital crimes back into our society only to have them victimize additional innocent people because were good humanatarians. Releasing any terrorist is absurd, naive and incomprehensible. These people have been at war with America for the last 40 years and their intent is our demise. It's ashame that so many Americans take their safety for granted and are more concerned about criminals and terrorists rights. I can only hope that closing your eyes and pretending this problem doesn't exsist will not kill you when you show up for work one morning, how soon we forget!

    January 23, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  34. xtina, chicago IL

    Let's send Gitmo terrorists to Hollywood to do odd jobs around the house for celebrities. After all, good help is so hard to find.

    January 23, 2009 at 10:42 pm |
  35. Lisa

    It's six and we have very, very, very bad people, why in prison right here that are "killing Americans". Sure some of those guys (all six) are very bad guys but a lot of them aren't. I work in the justice system and we do have deadlines (you know, those 48hrs awarded to you to see a judge and then that pesky 72hr arraignment). These laws are for a reason. By law, we just can't keep people locked up just because......"

    January 23, 2009 at 10:41 pm |
  36. Bandot

    A place like GITMO is a necessary evil. I have no quams about holding a terrorist who otherwise would be busy making IED's. These people do not care about whom they kill. They do not abide by Geneve conventions of war. Why should we? Holding them does not create more terrorist.Terrorist will always find a reason to hate. There hatered is not based on any logic except to gain power, control and money.

    January 23, 2009 at 10:40 pm |
  37. Bill P


    You're absolutely correct. These guests are all probably innocent of any crime at all. Let's say we just let them all go withing the city of Atlanta, give them all jobs at CNN and get them settles in apartments in your neighborhood. Maybe you can start a bowling league with a few of them.

    January 23, 2009 at 10:38 pm |
  38. Denise B Henley

    There are definitely bad guys out there. There always have been and there always will be. This whole problem seems to have started by the USA NOT withdrawing its forces from Saudi Arabia at the conclusion of the Gulf War. That is why Bin Ladin hates us; he wanted to take his troops from Afghanistan to deal with Saddam. When we did not honor our promise to the House of Saud we offended them. They tolerated, didn't like, but tolerated our support of Isreal, but when we did not honor our agreement we offended them. Americans could benefit from reading a bit and getting out of the box. There are other cultures out there, and some of that land we're on is holy land to them. If we make a promise, we should keep it. Heck yes, close Gitmo; it's done more harm than good.

    January 23, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  39. jordan

    i think obama and who ever else close guantanamo bay are stupid and should never be chosen to run our country i want to move move somewhere out of country for four years cause he is our president some president voting against our soldiers and what they needed in iraq to win this war and destroy terrorist. i think we should make it that to become president of the united states of america you should serve in an armed force and make it to a e-5 or at least a o-5 because then you can serve as a inportant role of command and know what its like to watch the faces of dying soldier. cause to become a general u have to serve and work for it, i believe we should do the same for president

    January 23, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  40. Dg

    There was a raid on a prison in Pakistan I believe around the time Laura Bush visited the country. They said that many of the inmates were terrorists. How would the dangers of releasing the Guantamo Bay prisoners versus those that were freed illegally?

    January 23, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  41. Jacque Bauer

    Most on these comments are based on complete ignorance. I have spent my entire adult life working in the Arab and ME world. My best friends are Arabs and Muslims in these places. Having said that I also know that the radical element, the type that populate Gitmo, are committed to their DEATH to destroy western values, especially Americans. Nothing you can say, and nothing that Obama can do, will ever change this. They must be held in special detention. They will never change their stripes. The liberals in America are fatalistically mistaken in their ignorant views. I disagreed with Bush on many issues, but this was definitely NOT one of them.

    January 23, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  42. John

    I would like to why it is not pointed out that Bush's people let the supposed bad guys out. Why did they do this? Could it be that people got upset for being held for no reason and then decide to pay use back?

    January 23, 2009 at 10:27 pm |
  43. Larry

    Well, Ken Ballen and Peter Bergen certainly aren't afraid to state some of their opinions as fact, are they?

    "But these are exceptional cases because the overwhelming majority of Guantanamo detainees were never really 'enemy combatants' in the first place."

    Just because a "detainee" was turned over to the United States by a foreign country certainly does not mean that the "detainee" did not, at one time or another, take up arms against the United States.

    January 23, 2009 at 10:00 pm |
  44. DE

    Only six? Try reporting the truth, more like 62. And how about REPORTING the FACT that released Gitmo detainee Said Ali al-Shihri is now the number two Al-Qaeda in Yeman. He is also credited with a bombing that took the life of an American after being released from Gitmo. Ken and Peter- If these poor innocent abused people are freed, are you going to take them in your home? Better yet, maybe you can hire them as nannies for your children. If you guys are going to spew your idiotic sympathy for people who want to KILL AMERICANS, then I believe you should be made to take them into your homes to teach them your kumbaya love.

    January 23, 2009 at 9:57 pm |
  45. George

    Gitmo was a disgrace specially since most of the inmates were being kept indefinitely without a trail! Not to mention the physical and mental torture that was inflicted on them!! Americans should not stand for such injustice.

    January 23, 2009 at 9:48 pm |
  46. Gene Penszynski from Vermont

    It is quite possiblt that GITMO has actualluy created more terroists. IF 96% of those detained were essentially harmless then torturing them woudl it seem only provoke more hatred toward their captors. I'd be willing to bet that the waterboarding , the Sleep deprevation and humilation imposed on these souls did nothing more than HELP terrosits world wide by providing newer and ever more determined recruits. o fthos released. I would suggest that before release every former detainee be cleansed of G W Bush's doctrine of Christian Fundamentalist Hatred and Spanish Inquisition-like abuse.

    January 23, 2009 at 9:45 pm |
  47. Sgt araujo

    Fortunately for the us here at home when they return to the battlefield it isn't us who have to deal with them. What about the poor soldier, marine or air man who is killed by someone whom we already had captured but released. It is easy to be brave and take the higher ground when you are safe at home.

    January 23, 2009 at 9:41 pm |
  48. john

    Excellent points. So why don't we just release the rest of them? I'm sure only a few will return to terrorism. Or better yet, let's bring them here, to the US. They're no threat to us. What a bunch of baloney! How in the world can the DoD present any kind of accurate statistics on the rate of return to the fight? Only if the released detainees are caught again. It's not like we've microchipped them and follow their every move. The DoD provides a statistic because that's what the press and the American people want. Is it accurate? No. It's a stab in the dark. Is the figure really higher? I have no doubt it is, much higher. But let's just continue to tell ourselves and the rest of the world how we have done these guys wrong, pat them on the head, and send them on their way. We'll all feel much better. Until the next attack on the US.

    January 23, 2009 at 9:38 pm |
  49. Scott

    Holding people who have committed no crime indefinitely and torturing them is something done by third-world countries, not the United States. Thankfully, President Obama will put an end to this practice. Let's hope the Justice Department does a full investigation of how this occurred in the first place and prosecutes those responsible.

    January 23, 2009 at 9:35 pm |
  50. Larry Christian

    Why doesn't someone state the probability that even if 100% of the 260+ Guantanomo Bay detainees released were to return to serve al Qaeda (an unlikely percentage)– it would be only a fraction of those who have already joined al Qaeda ranks as a direct result of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq?

    January 23, 2009 at 8:46 pm |
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