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?