Gitmo Recidivism – I Question the Timing

Whether by mischievous intent or happy coincidence, mere hours after Obama people announced that he would order the Guantanamo Bay detention facility closed, the Bush administration announced that 61 former detainees had returned to terrorism.

In my New Atlanticist post,  “Freed Gitmo Inmates Return to Terrorism,” I note that, while Dick Cheney must feel somewhat vindicated, Gitmo’s recidivism rate is actually remarkably low.

FILED UNDER: Terrorism, Uncategorized, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. tom p says:

    the Bush administration announced that 61 former detainees had returned to terrorism.

    And just exactly how did they “return to terrorism”? The last time the Bush Admin released such a list it included people who had “written letters to the editor” and joined political parties who are against US policies. In fact, if I recall correctly, there were only 3 or 4 who had actively plotted or participated in acts of violence against the US.

  2. swbarnes2 says:

    Yes, the report you are thinking of is here

    “In short, while Principal Deputy General Counsel Dell’Orto and the Minority Views publicly
    insisted that some 30 former Guantánamo detainees have “returned to waging war against the
    United States and its allies,” the Department’s July 2007 News Release flatly contradicted this
    claim. Rather than thirty supposed recidivists waging war, the Press Release described at most
    fifteen (15) possible recidivists. Even more surprising, only seven (7) of these individuals are
    identified by name and were alleged to have returned to any battlefield or any combat. The other
    eight (8) of the fifteen (15) individuals alleged by the Government to have “returned to the fight”
    are accused of nothing more than speaking critically of the Government’s detention policies.”

    And this:

    “According to the Department of Defense’s published and unpublished data not a
    single detainee was ever released by a court. Moreover, every released detainee
    was released by political appointees of the Department of Defense, sometimes
    over the objection of the military.
    • According to the Department of Defense’s published and unpublished data and
    reports, not a single released Guantánamo detainee has ever attacked any

    The report looks like it’s from May-June of 2008.

  3. tom p says:

    thanx swb, I knew somebody would keep me honest, and my “search” capabilities on the internet are sadly lacking.

  4. tom p says:

    oh, and by the by, it was actually only

    “at most 12, not 30, detainees “returned to the fight”

    and “not a single released Gauntanamo detainee has ever attacked any Americans.” and “The only indisputable detainee who took up arms against the US or it’s Allies was ISN 220.”

    (the above is found on page 2 of the linked report)

  5. Ugh says:

    And note the presumption that these people had returned to terrorism, instead of being inspired to (allegedly, and it appears allegedly based on flimsy evidence) commit acts of “terrorism” due to their treatment at Gitmo.

  6. davod says:

    “Gitmo’s recidivism rate is actually remarkably low.”

    Maybe so, but like murderer who are repeat offenders, the consequences of Gitmo recidivists is paricularly horrendous.

  7. davod says:

    “According to the Department of Defense’s published and unpublished data and
    reports, not a single released Guantánamo detainee has ever attacked any

    I do recall reading that one of them blew himself up in a Baghdad market killing many and wounding many more. Based upon the above I can only say thank heavens, they must have only killed civilians but they missed any Americans and their allies.

  8. davod says:

    CNN World News report, May 2005
    From Mike Mount
    CNN Pentagon Producer

    WASHINGTON (CNN) — A Kuwaiti man released from U.S. custody at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in 2005 blew himself up in a suicide attack in Iraq last month, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.

    Abdullah Saleh al-Ajmi was one of two Kuwaitis who took part in a suicide attack in Mosul on April 26, the officials said. Records show that an attack in Mosul that day targeted an Iraqi police patrol and left six people dead, including two police officers.

    An announcement on a jihadist Web site earlier this month declared that al-Ajmi was one of the “heroes” who carried out the Mosul operation. A second man from Kuwait also took part in the suicide attack, the Web site said.

    Pentagon officials who had been keeping track of al-Ajmi said they were aware he had left Kuwait for Syria, a launching ground for terrorists into Iraq.

    A video posted on various jihadist Web sites shows a number of images of al-Ajmi, followed by text reading, “May God have mercy on you Abdullah al-Ajmi. I send you a warm greeting O you martyr, O you hero, O you, a man in a time where only few men are left.”

    U.S. military records of Guantanamo detainees indicate that a man with the same name and nationality was held at the Cuban prison.”

    I guess Iraqi Police Officers are not allies.

  9. anjin-san says:

    One more screwup by the Bush admin. This is news?

  10. fredw says:

    dittos ugh

  11. steve s says:

    Occasionally, following due process is going to lead to a crime down the road. That’s inevitable. Justice systems aren’t perfect. But you know what’s less perfect? A president who thinks he has the powers of a dictator, and tortures people to death. And a bunch of 24-saturated idiots who don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

    Is it the 20th yet?