July 20th, 2009
07:07 PM ET

How many Gitmo prisoners return to fight?

Program Note: Peter Bergen will be on tonight talking about the situation in Afghanistan. Tune in AC360° 10p ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/20/bergen.guantanamo/art.peter.bergen.cnn.jpg caption="Peter Bergen says it's crucial to know how many ex-Guantanamo prisoners have gone back to the fight."]

Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann
Special to CNN

As President Obama awaits formal recommendations this month on issues surrounding the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, it is crucial that policymakers and the public have an accurate picture of the threat to the United States posed by those detainees already released.

Contrary to recent assertions that one in seven, or 14 percent, of the former prisoners had "returned to the battlefield," our analysis of Pentagon reports, news stories and other public records indicates that the number who were confirmed or suspected to be involved in anti-U.S. violence is closer to one in 25, or 4 percent.

During his first week in office, Obama signed an executive order directing that the Guantanamo prison be closed by January 22, 2010, and suspending the system of military commissions that existed to deal with detainees in what the Bush administration termed the war on terror.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Cuba • Global 360° • Guantanomo Bay • On Our Radar • Peter Bergen
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. dee

    The Gitmo prisoners are in there for a reason. They want to kill Americans and they will not stop until they have fulfilled their goal. By releasing them there is no doubt in my mind that they will continue to work on finding a way to destroy and kill Americans. If they kill their own people via attacks and suicide bombing what would make you think they would not come back and attack us? Their hate is beyond trying to negotiate like civilized people. The hate only sees death as the solution.

    July 21, 2009 at 8:57 am |
  2. Jessica

    I'm sure alot of the people stuck in GITMO are terrorists and that alot are not. The government and the people need to know what happens in there so that action can take place. We shouldnt lower our county to the level of killers and torturers and hypocrites. We give people rights and that makes us better but we cant throw people in prison and then 5 years later remember we put them there. We need to work on the prisoners to really find out whos a threat and who isn't. But I suppose it comes down to the choice, would you rather have some innocent and alot of guilty in prison? or no innocent and less guilty in prison? I can't say which I would rather have, but the guilty ones will kill as many soldiers and innocent people as they can when the innocent ones are suffering in prison, which one?

    July 20, 2009 at 11:49 pm |
  3. Annie Kate

    And how many of the "terrorist" prisoners at Gitmo really weren't terrorists at all but after incarceration joined the terrorists in their cause and fighting because of the way they had been treated by their American captors. We probably made more terrorists there.

    July 20, 2009 at 8:44 pm |
  4. M. Vasquez

    What is behind the unrest in Afghanistan? What forms the attitudes and influences the actions of terrorists? What makes them so desperate? There is a legal market for growing poppies. The opiate is used in many drugs for medicinal purposes. Does Afghanistan have a share in the legal market? If not, why not? How does the illegal trade impact the legal trade? Are the high medical costs in the US impacted by these markets? Just wondering, is this also a trade war?

    July 20, 2009 at 7:51 pm |
  5. Trish Sublette

    I have to agree with Jason. How many prisoners really were terrorists. After the Nancy Pelosi "Item", and watching the movie, "Rendition", I am so leery as to what our government is capable of doing to alledged people. I am trusting that President Obama will not allow the terrorism of innocent people to continue in this country. If only 1 in 25 return their country and commit acts of terrorism, does that mean only 1/4 of the prisoners are really guilty of the crimes their accusers claim???

    July 20, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  6. JIM S

    I grew up with muslims in Dearborn Michigan. I can honestly say that 85% are not civilized. Therefore, I beleive every Gitmo prisoner released wil be back on the battlefield, trying to kill Americans and infidels. When they are not killing them, they are killing each other.

    July 20, 2009 at 5:43 pm |
  7. RLWellman

    What does the Geneva Convention have to do with Terrorist? This was a contract wrote to limit what two countries can do during war, not against terrorist!

    July 20, 2009 at 5:34 pm |
  8. Jason

    Similar to the case of James Stamphill who's trial eventually closed down Alcatraz, how many of the Gitmo prisoners were really 'terrorists' prior to being incarcerated (against Geneva Conventions)? Sounds like many of them might have been in the wrong place at the wrong time and were rounded up while they were defending themselves. not all of them share the views of bin Laden or mullah omar.

    July 20, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  9. Rodney Krause

    Isn't just one former Gitmo prisinor returniong to the battlefield to try and kill americans too many?

    July 20, 2009 at 4:13 pm |