Leaping to Dick Cheney’s defense against President Obama’s claim that “we have not done a particularly effective job in sorting through who are truly dangerous individuals that we’ve got to make sure are not a threat to us, who are folks that we just swept up,” The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes insists “of the approximately 250 detainees currently at Guantanamo, no more than a handful could be counted as ‘folks that we just swept up.'”
Perhaps this is true of the 250 detainees currently at Guantanamo. Despite his assertion, Hayes actually has no way of knowing. But of the 775 detainees brought to Gitmo since October 7, 2001 — every single one of whom, we were repeatedly (falsely) assured by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al, were among “the worst of the worst” — quite a few could be counted as “folks that we just swept up.”
Hayes also refers to this January 24 Newsweek story on “a new Pentagon report on former Guantanamo detainees who had returned to the jihad after their release,” noting that the report “hasn’t been released.”
And it now looks like the Pentagon is attempting to hide it further behind a bureaucratic blind. In an email two weeks ago, we were told that in order to see the report we would have to submit a Freedom of Information Act request — a process that can take months, even years. Why did the the self-described “most transparent administration in history” suddenly reverse itself? Where is the report?
A growing chorus of individuals and organizations are now demanding that the buried Gitmo report be released.
This is absolutely hilarious. Not the Pentagon refusing to divulge information, but Hayes trying to spin it as evidence in favor of Cheneyism. The information that Hayes would like us to believe he’s concerned about has been absent from the Pentagon’s website since before Obama took office, when the Pentagon first made its new claims about the “61 Gitmo recidivists” (later increased to 62 with the al-Shihri revelations.)
Noting the lack of proof for the Pentagon claims, CAP’s Ken Gude told the Wonk Room on January 15 that “previously, the defense department had issued a dossier when it made its first statement that they believed 30 detainees had returned to the fight.”
In that dossier, they were only able to identify seven cases of actual violence, and some of those were based on reports from foreign intelligence services that we would normally not view as terribly reliable. […]
Interestingly, that dossier has been removed from the defense department web site. We no longer have access to it. They didn’t release a similar dossier with this number 61 that they came up with this time. Interestingly, they did say that they have confirmation that 18 of the 61 have returned to the fight –- however they describe it -– and they suspect that an additional 43 have. No information was provided on how they suspect that. No information was provided on what the criteria is for returning to the battlefield.
Interestingly, Hayes was not clamoring for the release of this information back then. Contacted for comment on the Hayes piece, Gude responded:
Despite my general amusement at Dick Cheney’s official biographer pushing for more government transparency, I share Stephen Hayes’ enthusiasm for releasing more information about the Guantanamo detainees the Bush Pentagon claimed returned to the fight. While we know that a small number of detainees have engaged in violence upon release, Hayes’ 62 is more likely to resemble Joe McCarthy’s list of 57 Communists in the State Department than a massive wave of violent terrorists. Detailed accounts of these allegations, and more importantly, the sources of this information, will help cut through the many myths surrounding Guantanamo and only assist the Obama administration as it carefully works through the process of closing the prison camp.
Gude also noted that Defense Secretary Gates walked back the Pentagon’s claims, telling Congress on January 27 that total recidivism numbers “until recently” had been on the order of “four or five percent.”
As Gude suggests, given that Hayes penned an embarrassingly worshipful biography — and continues to consider it his sacred duty to defend the legacy — of the most secrecy-obsessed vice-president in American history, it’s rather rich that he’s now trying to recast himself as a champion of open government. Understanding, however, that Hayes is one of the handful of people who still insists that Saddam Hussein was in league with Osama bin Laden, it shouldn’t surprise us that he continues to boldly assert things for which there is no evidence.