Giving yet another cause for pause in the constitutionally dubious detainment of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, a relatively small portion of those released -- 16 percent -- go on to become terrorists again. A new report out today from the Director of National Intelligence counts only 95 out of 600 former Gitmo prisoners as having been confirmed to rejoin terrorist groups upon release, significantly lower than the 27 percent previously reported by Congress. The error was made by grouping together the known repeat terrorists with another 72 being watched for maybe rejoining terrorist groups.
Now, pesky things like habeas corpus aside, 95 to potentially 167 additional terrorists out in the world is nothing to sneeze at. But, as the AP notes, there are some strong predictors of recidivism, such as how stable the country an ex-Gitmo detainee is released into (Yemen is particularly bad), which suggests that at least some of the hundreds still imprisoned might be safely released. That's something the U.S. has shown itself to be willing to do -- for political gain, that is.
Even that liberal 27 percent, it's worth noting, is a lower recidivist rate than that of our domestic prison system. One 2002 government study found that 67.5 percent of U.S. prisoners were arrested again three years after release and 51.8 percent go back to jail. Of course, it's an imperfect comparison, since the enforcement method for terrorists and for "regular old" criminals -- armies vs. police departments -- are very different, as are the crimes themselves. But it's enough to get us wondering (again) why some think it's so awful to give Gitmo prisoners those legal rights we give those who aren't detained extrajudicially.