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Guantanamo - On Both Sides of the Fence

Oh, how righteous the defenders of rights for prisoners of war are ("ok, detainees at Guantanamo") as we approach 10 years since the horrendous attacks of September 11th. Yes, people can choose to forget that morning and the ensuing concerns over threats against our country. Yes, some people are now distracted by the outcries over increased security at our Nation's airports (see backscatter imaging and the roar of 4th Amendment activists - wonder how many Google searches there have been by people to "brush up" on the 4th Amendment in the last month or so).

And yes, because of the banishment in some circles of the term, "War on Terrorism," the issues of how we deal with the enemy have become blurred. While the question of the definition of the word "war" itself is a subject of interest and debate that is not the topic for this morning (although one of my associates recently observed that the redefinition of the term "war" needed to account for non-state actors that aren't conventionally violent, but still damaging").

On the one hand we have the Attorney General of the United States (and many parts of the media) have shown outrage that Congress, specifically the Senate of the United States, tagged a provision on to a spending bill prohibiting the use of federal funds to transport "detainees" to the U.S. from Guantanamo for any purpose - including trials... Of course, this leads to the debate over whether the "detainees" (read that as individuals who directly or indirectly participated in or planned the attacks of September 11th, or who were captured either in the act of, or planning of acts of terrorism against the United States and its citizens).

The recurring debate over whether terrorism defendants should be prosecuted in civilian courts or military commissions flared last month after a jury convicted the first Guantánamo detainee to receive a civilian trial on just one of 285 charges related to the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa. While the defendant is still facing up to life in prison, critics said it showed that civilian trials risked acquittals.

Noting that this same article in the NY Times refers to WikiLeaks and the fact that contained in the illicit release of this material is a set of nearly 800 detainee "threat assessment" files, now, please, consider the word recidivism. Pronounce it once, \ri-ˈsi-də-ˌvi-zəm\. Essentially the word means "return to criminal behavior."

According to a report from the Director of National Intelligence, 25% of the "detainees" transferred from Guantanamo to other countries, have been confirm or suspected of returning to the battlefields (and wanting to kill Americans). Of the 150 recidivists, 13 have already been killed (and gone to meet their virgins) and 54 have been captured.

"The Intelligence Community assesses that the number of former detainees identified as reengaged in terrorist or insurgent activity will increase," the report says, adding, "if additional detainees are transferred from GTMO, some of them will reengage in terrorist or insurgent activities."


"It is not unusual for former GTMO detainees to communicate with persons in terrorist organizations. The reasons for communication span from the mundane (reminiscing about shared experiences) to the nefarious (planning future terrorist operations)," the report says.

Even more distressing (if that is possible) is that more than half of the released detainees end up in Yemen where our State Department believes they are held for a few weeks before they are given their final release and treated by their jihadist friends as "rock stars" who wear their time in the detention center at Guantanamo as a "badge of honor."

OPINION: Political correctness is going to get Americans killed. Treating enemy combatants as criminals is going to result someday in having one of them released by a "jury of their peers."

Remember that Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was cleared of all but one of the 286 charges for his participation in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa. It's only a matter of time before one of these "detainees" falls through the cracks of American justice and comes back to participate in another attack.

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