Politico published Bauer op-ed that advanced 61-detainee falsehood

››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

Politico published an op-ed by Gary Bauer that falsely claimed that "a January Pentagon report found that 61 former detainees [of the prison at Guantánamo Bay] had engaged in terrorist activities." In fact, according to the Pentagon, 18 former Guantánamo detainees have been "confirmed" to have "return[ed] to the fight," while an additional 43 former detainees are "suspected" of having done so. Even the Pentagon's "confirmed" figure has been questioned by analysts.

On March 23, Politico published an op-ed by American Values president Gary Bauer that falsely claimed that "a January Pentagon report found that 61 former detainees [of the prison at Guantánamo Bay] had engaged in terrorist activities." In the op-ed, Bauer stated that those numbers were the result of what he called an "extreme religious accommodation" at the prison that he said has created "a culture of Islamic radicalization." In fact, the Department of Defense has stated that 18 former Guantánamo detainees have been "confirmed" as having "return[ed] to the fight," as Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented. During a January 13 press conference, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell announced "updated recidivism numbers of people who have been at Guantanamo": "The new numbers are, we believe, 18 confirmed and 43 suspected of returning to the fight. So 61 in all former Guantanamo detainees are confirmed or suspected of returning to the fight."

Even the Pentagon's claim that it has confirmed that 18 former Guantánamo detainees have "return[ed] to the fight" has been questioned by analysts. For instance, CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen stated on the January 23 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360: "[W]hen you really boil it down, the actual number of people whose names we know are about eight out of the 520 that have been released [from Guantánamo], so a little above 1 percent, that we can actually say with certainty have engaged in anti-American terrorism or insurgence activities since they have been released. ... If the Pentagon releases more information about specific people, I think it would be possible to -- to potentially agree with them. But, right now, that information isn't out there."

Additionally, as Media Matters has noted, Seton Hall Law School professor Mark Denbeaux has disputed the Pentagon's figures, asserting that the Defense Department's most recent "attempt to enumerate the number of detainees who have returned to the battlefield is false by the Department of Defense's own data and prior reports." Denbeaux has written several reports about Guantánamo detainees, including reports challenging the Pentagon's definition of "battlefield" capture and the Pentagon's published detainee recidivism rates.

From Bauer's March 23 Politico op-ed:

Is the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, erected after Sept. 11 to imprison "the worst of the worst" of America's enemies, creating terrorists? With Attorney General Eric Holder's recent announcement that some Gitmo detainees may be released in the U.S., the question has never been more relevant.

After a January Pentagon report found that 61 former detainees had engaged in terrorist activities, several commentators concluded the answer was yes and suggested that conditions at the prison are to blame.

This may surprise you, but as a staunch proponent of the prison, I agree. But while many liberal commentators believe inhumane treatment and religious persecution transforms detainees into suicide bombers and high-level terrorists, I believe the opposite is true: that the unprecedented and extreme religious accommodation granted to Gitmo prisoners has created a culture of Islamic radicalization.

Posted In
Justice & Civil Liberties, Detention, National Security & Foreign Policy
Network/Outlet
The Politico
Person
Gary Bauer
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