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Thursday, May 21, 2009


Guantanamo "recidivism"

Pop quiz. What is wrong with this headline?
One in seven freed from Guantanamo reportedly return to terrorism
It was a bit of a trick question, because actually there are two things wrong. The first is that the headline doesn't reflect the actual article, which says that "one in seven of the 534 prisoners...has returned to terrorism or militant activity." Since any actual act is undoubtedly classified as "terrorism," regardless of whether it's a car bomb directed against civilians or an IED directed against American forces, it's a safe bet that "militant activity" amounts to little more than marching in an "End the occupation!" demonstration.

But the real answer to the quiz, the primary problem with the headline, is the word "return" (along with the use of the word "recidivism" in the article). Because these are people who were released from Guantanamo, a prison where hundreds, some of them known to be completely innocent and many of them undoubtedly innocent, are still housed. Do you really think if there was one shred of evidence that the released men had actually been involved in "terrorism" that they would have been among the released? Oh, there might be one or two who were transferred to prisons in other countries, and then released by those countries whose sensibility about things like imprisoning people without trials was higher than our own, but the overwhelming majority of those 534 released prisoners were people against whom there was no evidence whatsoever (much less, of course, a trial and a conviction).

"Return" to terrorism? If the facts are indeed true, that 74 of the released prisoners have subsequently engaged in terrorist acts (accepting just for sake of argument the U.S. definition of "terrorism"), I'd say it's equally or more likely that those 74 were doing so for the first time, having had their hearts and minds poisoned against the U.S. by their experience with the U.S. "justice" system.

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