One in Seven, Six in Seven

The New York Times has just published a “news” story that once again shamefully manipulates the facts towards the absurd proposition that Guantanamo keeps us safe by failing in one in seven cases.

According to the Times, one in seven of the 534 Guantanamo prisoners already released have returned to the terrorist activities. Right off the bat, this claim is misleading. First the words “rejoin”, “return” and “recidivism”, all used in the article, give the false impression that the detainees were previously terrorists and captured on the battlefield. This is simply contrary to fact. One of the principle reasons they were released was because there was either no evidence or not sufficient evidence to convict them of any wrongdoing.

Next, the fact that one in seven Guantanamo detainees now engages in terrorism does not show that Guantanamo makes us safer. Quite the contrary. It is Guantanamo, a prison system that allows for the illegal detention of persons without sufficient evidence to convict them, that has produced this one in seven number; not the closing of the prison. So how does Guantanamo failing in one in seven cases due to it own inherent defects make us safer than an American supermax prison? Rather, wouldn’t those same defects continue to produce similar numbers?

Finally, the article completely ignores the mirror side of the same statistic: only one in seven of those 534 Guantanamo prisoners have proven to be potentially dangerous. That means that six in seven of those detainees were deprived of basic human rights for half a decade, subjected to Cheney’s enhanced interrogation program, yet pose no threat to the U.S. How does an 86% prisoner innocence rate make us more safe?

If anything, the statistics demonstrate how Guantanamo has failed in both making us safer and bringing terrorists to justice. Perpetuating Guantanamo only reinforces those failures. These same statistics in the American criminal justice system would be scandalous. Can you imagine a prosecutor repeatedly failing to try or convict criminal defendants held in detention for years — one in seven of which were dangerous, six of seven innocent — and politicians arguing that the prosecutor is the solution not the problem?



Filed under Essays, Obama 44

6 responses to “One in Seven, Six in Seven

  1. eric

    As Obama correctly pointed out today (finally) in his speech on national security:

    “For over seven years, we have detained hundreds of people at Guantanamo. During that time, the system of Military Commissions at Guantanamo succeeded in convicting a grand total of three suspected terrorists. Let me repeat that: three convictions in over seven years. Instead of bringing terrorists to justice, efforts at prosecution met setbacks, cases lingered on, and in 2006 the Supreme Court invalidated the entire system. Meanwhile, over five hundred and twenty-five detainees were released from Guantanamo under the Bush Administration. Let me repeat that: two-thirds of the detainees were released before I took office and ordered the closure of Guantanamo.”

  2. eric

    and . . .

    “Indeed, the legal challenges that have sparked so much debate in recent weeks in Washington would be taking place whether or not I decided to close Guantanamo. For example, the court order to release seventeen Uighur detainees took place last fall – when George Bush was President. The Supreme Court that invalidated the system of prosecution at Guantanamo in 2006 was overwhelmingly appointed by Republican Presidents. In other words, the problem of what to do with Guantanamo detainees was not caused by my decision to close the facility; the problem exists because of the decision to open Guantanamo in the first place.”

  3. Who really knows the facts in this matter?

    Why are parts of the reports released by Obama’s cronies not giving the entire picture … large portions of information are blacked out?

    Who in Congress didn’t actually know, and therefore was not part of what appears to be a historic collusion?

    Cheney: liar, felon, scumbag with an agenda to promote an archaic ideology.

    Obama: liar, polished rhetorician bent on destroying the Constitutional authority, scumbag with a smile with an agenda to promote an agenda proven to be a historical failure.

    Outcome: Null value for the American citizen.

    The media sells perception, perception becomes “reality”, “reality” usurps actuality.

    Are you really going to have your mind bought by perception?

    You know nothing, I know nothing, American citizens know nothing … and none of us ever will, either.

  4. eric

    I guess the appropriate answer is “I don’t know”.

  5. That may be appropriate, but the correct answer is “we don’t know”.

    I have no knowledge beyond you, just a different perspective.

  6. ReWrite

    Another good post! Disappointing article by the Times

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