Monday, December 21, 2009

As far as I know, the U.S. has never transferred a 'high-value detainee' from its custody."

I posted earlier today about the report at both Hot Air and Weekly Standard where the Obama DoJ has released two Gitmo detainees to Somaliland, a breakoff country of Somalia, one with which we have no relations.

I posted that via my iPhone and if you can add links to your posts through there, I can't figure out how. At any rate, I wanted to delve into the release a little deeper than phone-blogging would allow.

The entire Catch and Release program that the Obama administration seems to be practicing with regard to terrorism suspects is troubling enough, but this one is especially problematic because of the Somaliland angle and the fact that one of the detainees in question, Abdullahi Sudi Arale, was, as recently as 2007, classified as a "high value detainee."

Thomas Joscelyn at The Weekly Standard points out that "As far as I know, the U.S. has never transferred a 'high-value detainee' from its custody," and refers to this June 2006 Department of Defense statement that says:

Abdullahi Sudi Arale is suspected of being a member of the Al Qaeda terrorist network in East Africa, serving as a courier between East Africa Al Qaeda (EAAQ) and Al Qaeda in Pakistan. Since his return from Pakistan to Somalia in September 2006, he has held a leadership role in the EAAQ-affiliated Somali Council of Islamic Courts (CIC).

There is significant information available indicating that Arale has been assisting various EAAQ-affiliated extremists in acquiring weapons and explosives, and has facilitated terrorist travel by providing false documents for AQ and EAAQ-affiliates and foreign fighters traveling into Somalia. Arale played a significant role in the re-emergence of the CIC in Mogadishu.

Joscelyn, as you may recall, visited Gitmo recently. He spoke to Brigadier General Timothy Lake who explained that he and his staff have "zero input" as far as who gets transferred and who doesn't. Joscelyn concludes that "the DOJ and Foggy Bottom control transfer decisions, not the military officials who have been responsible for detaining, interrogating, and analyzing the intelligence collected on each Gitmo detainee."

It seems to me that those military officials should have some input into the decision, but, that does not appear to be the case.

And, while it's true that the Bush administration also released a detainee to Somaliland, he was not a "high-value detainee" as Arale was. Muhamed Hussein Abdallah was released November 4, 2008 at the recommendation of Gordon England.

Just as it's true that the Bush administration determined that many of the Guantanamo detainees were cleared for release, so too has the Obama administration. Neither side has always been correct. The recidivism rate is alarmingly high. All the more reason to proceed with caution now when considering who should be released.

Stephen Hayes reports that a "classified Defense Intelligence Agency report leaked to the New York Times in May supported that claim. Return to the Battlefield showed that 74 detainees transferred or released from GuantĂĄnamo had returned to jihad. That's one in seven--a recidivism rate of 14 percent." However, that report is out of date.

Hayes goes on to say that "the Defense Department has now produced an updated version of Return to the Battlefield. According to four separate sources familiar with the study, the rate of recidivism is increasing. One source said there has been a 'spike' in the number of former detainees involved in jihad against the United States and its allies. Another called the increase 'significant' and 'deeply troubling.'"

How large is the "spike"? We don't know because the most transparent administration in history won't release the report.

In fact, Congressman Frank Wolf has now written a letter to the Obama administration calling for the release of said report.

The truth is, combined with the blind decision to close Gitmo, the quixotic release of detainees hither and yon (despite high recidivism rates), the efforts to bring high-value detainees to New York City for trial, and not to mention the actual importing of terrorists into the United States to Thomson Correctional Center, the bitter attacks on the CIA, the scaling down of weapons programs and national defense spending, the elimination of the missile defense system, glad-handing with dictators, alienation of allies,'s all enough to make one wonder. Where exactly are the priorities of this administration?

It seems to me that we couldn't be much more of a blind, sitting duck if we tried. As I questioned earlier, at what point does it become treason? Aiding and abetting the enemy?

It's enough to keep one awake at night.

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