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Guantánamo: For Good Reason

In this week's cover story for The Weekly Standard, Clear and Present Danger, my friend Tom Joscelyn says that "[t]he Obama administration is about to discover that the terrorists detained at Guantánamo are there for good reason."

Whatever happens to the detainees, the important point for much of the commentariat is that Guantánamo will be shuttered. For Guantánamo's many critics, the facility long ago became a symbol of all that is wrong with the Bush administration's conduct of the war on terror-from its cowboy-like unilateralism to its alleged widespread torture and abuse of terrorist suspects. That many dangerous enemies lurk in Guantánamo's cells has often been a secondary concern, if a concern at all. Thus, when President-elect Obama spoke of regaining "America's moral stature in the world," he was endorsing the widespread perception of Guantánamo as an American sin that originated in the Bush administration's overreaction to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

This perception, however, was always skewed. The new administration will soon discover from its review of the Guantánamo files what motivated its predecessor: The scope of the terrorist threat was far greater than anyone knew on September 11, 2001. But for the Bush administration's efforts, many more Americans surely would have perished.

This conclusion is based on a careful review of the thousands of pages of documents released from Guantánamo, as well as other publicly available evidence. In 2006, the Department of Defense began to release the documents to the public via its website. The files had been created during the Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRT) and Administrative Review Board (ARB) hearings held for nearly 600 detainees. This unclassified cache includes both the government's allegations against each detainee and summarized transcripts of the detainees' testimony. Although the documents were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Associated Press, the intelligence contained in the files was largely ignored by the mainstream press for more than two years. Thus, the New York Times reported only the day before the recent presidential election that the files contain "sobering intelligence claims against many of the remaining detainees."

Sobering indeed. Read it all. You'll see but a small sampling of what the Times was reacting to, even though they continue to deride the facility and the President who established it.

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