Revisionist Recidivism: An Analysis of the Government's Representations of Alleged 'Recidivism' of the Guantanamo Detainees
Seton Hall Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-36
38 Pages Posted: 20 May 2011 Last revised: 31 May 2011
Date Written: June 5, 2009
The latest "Fact Sheet" drafted by the Department of Defense ("DOD"), dated April 7, 2009, claims that 74 out of more than 530 former Guantánamo detainees have "reengaged in terrorist activities." Undermining that claim is the further assertion that, out of the 74, only 27 are considered "confirmed" recidivists. The total shrinks further since only 15 of the alleged 27 are named in the document, and only 13 of these 15 can be shown to have actually been detained at Guantánamo.
Even assuming that the DOD's number of 13 "Confirmed" recidivist former Guantanamo detainees is accurate, this number represents virtually no change over the past year, and remains a far cry from the alleged 74. The April 2009 report marks the fourth list of names issued by the government since 2007, and, in an ongoing trend, each of these "partial" lists has proven rife with errors, inconsistencies, and inflated statistics.
In this report as well as in previous reports, all relying on the Government's own data and official statements, the Seton Hall Center for Law and Policy concludes the following: 1. While the Government has stated a number of detainee recidivists on at least 45 occasions, on 41 of those occasions it provided no names to corroborate the number. No list of names released equals the contemporaneously reported number of total purported recidivists. 2. The DOD's previous statements about post-release conduct of former detainees were produced in July 2007, May 2008, and June 2008. The DOD has not asserted a change in policy in the time since. 3. The April 7, 2009 report announces 74 alleged recidivists, but lacks 45 names. Of the 29 names given, only half are labeled "confirmed" recidivists. This number is representative of previous claims by the DOD and makes the "74" figure appear inflated. 4. Many of the names provided in the latest report raise the same problems of identity and consistency posed by earlier DOD reports. 5. The scope of "reengaged in terrorism" extends far beyond the battlefield, and raises questions as to the ends the Department of Defense takes the term "recidivism." 6. With each new DOD report, the difference between the asserted total number of recidivists and the number of named and confirmed recidivists grows greater.
Keywords: Terrorism, terrorist, Guantanamo, detainees, released, recidivism, recidivist, Return to the fight, Global War on Terror, Department of Defense, reengaged, Seton Hall, Center for Policy and Research
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