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White House: Bush at Fault for Spike in Terrorist Recidivism Figures

Gitmo no exception to Obama's petty politics of blame

In what constitutes a staggering blow to President Obama’s goal of shuttering the Guantanamo Bay military detention facility, a new report by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) says one in five former detainees have returned to militant activity following their release.

But as with each successive challenge to the Obama White House, when all else invariably fails, the President and his aides blame the former administration with graduating intensity. Defense-related issues–on which the President and his party are, largely, observed as out of their depth–are of course no exception to Obama’s petty politics of blame.

A senior White House official Thursday told The Washington Post’s Greg Sergeant that those terrorist recidivists cited in the Pentagon’s study were conveniently, and necessarily by virtue of Obama’s perfection, released during the Bush administration.

“Because the Obama administration has a better screening process in place to determine which detainees pose a threat,” Sergeant writes, the Obama aide was confident no detainees released under President Obama’s watch have resumed extremist activity.

The question of who is at fault for the sudden spike in terrorist activity among former detainees is one of little concern, particularly as the White House signals it intends to shutter the detention facility in the wake of increasing criticism from its progressive base. What is distressing, however, is President Obama’s insistence upon rebuking his predecessor, as opposed to taking the extraordinary measures necessary to prevent the release of additional recidivists.

The Department of Defense reported in June of 2008 that 37 former Guantanamo detainees were “confirmed or suspected” of engaging in terrorist activity following their release. That figure climbed to 61 by January of 2009, according to Pentagon officials. And in May, when the most recent “Return to the Battlefield” report was leaked to the New York Times, the upward trend continued, reaching 74.

While present figures remain classified, the Weekly Standard’s Thomas Joscelyn approximated that, according to the Pentagon’s new analysis, 112 former detainees had resumed their jihad on America – a startling metric of failure the current administration is keen on discounting.

Was a negligent Bush White House to blame for the increased rates of recidivism? Not likely, as the Pentagon conducted an intensive review of the remaining detainees at the close of President George W. Bush’s administration.

Those detainees released by the Bush administration were considered less dangerous than the roughly 200 remaining inmates. Obviously, errors of judgment were made, for which the former President and his aides must answer.

To that end, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said of the Bush administration’s determination to release select detainees: “Some of the initial cases were — were — were more obvious than others. Some of them were deemed to be less of a threat than others. I think as we are getting down to the final couple hundred, that these are clearly very difficult cases.”

But whereas President Bush’s aides released or transferred those inmates “deemed to be less of a threat,” President Obama’s administration must review the undesirables, the “very difficult cases,” for whom there is no degree of certainty they will not resume terrorist activities.

Most unsettling is the prospect of the Obama administration making judgments in these most complicated of cases, whereby the likelihood of releasing recidivists outweighs the potential for earning allies in Yemen, Afghanistan, or the illegitimate state of “Somaliland.” If in seemingly clear cases errors were made by the Bush administration, only stunning hubris can explain Obama’s naive assertion that no recidivists will be released under his watch.

Now, President Obama should pledge to Americans the application of greater scrutiny in the determination of continued detention for Guantanamo detainees. Instead, the White House continues its blistering and reckless march towards closing the facility.

Cross-posted to Skepticians.com

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