Brennan: 20% recidivism rate for Gitmo terrorists “isn’t that bad”

ABC News’ Jake Tapper reports on some disturbing comments made over the weekend by counterterrorism “czar” John Brennan on the recidivism rate for Gitmo detainees:

Comments by John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, at the Islamic Center at New York University on Saturday, are drawing fire and have prompted at least one call for his resignation by a Republican senator.

At one point, Brennan was asked about a recent assessment from the intelligence community that 20 percent of detainees transferred from Guantanamo are confirmed or suspected of recidivist activity, as Brennan confirmed in a letter to Congress earlier this month.

Earlier this month in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Brennan used that figure and pointed out about the 20 percent recidivism rate that “all of these cases relate to detainees released during the previous administration and under the prior detainee review process. The report indicates no confirmed or suspected recidivists among detainees transferred during this administration, although we recognize the ongoing risk that detainees could engage in such activity.”

Shayana Kadidal of the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights challenged that figure, saying that his organization believes fewer than half a dozen former Guantanamo detainees have gotten involved in “any criminal activity.”

Brennan stood by the figure, calling the assessment “very rigorous,” though he acknowledged it’s “very difficult to get precise figures” on recidivism.

“People sometimes use that figure, 20 percent, say ‘Oh my goodness, one out of five detainees returned to some type of extremist activity,'” Brennan said. “You know, the American penal system, the recidivism rate is up to something about 50 percent or so, as far as return to crime. Twenty percent isn’t that bad.”

Brennan added, “Many of these detainees have returned, have engaged not just extremism, but terrorist attacks. It is something that we have to look at very carefully.”

He said the Obama administration has a “more rigorous review” than did the Bush administration before detainees are transferred.

A couple of things. First, it’s not shocking to any of us who follow this administration closely that Brennan is using the now classic, standard “blame Bush” line on the issue of recidivism as it relates to the release of Gitmo terrorists without failing to provide the context as to why the Bush administration had to release Gitmo terrorists in the first place, which I wrote about in depth last month:

Um, um, but wasn’t the whole “controversy” surrounding Gitmo, as we were told by Obama and other self-serving Democrats and various “human rights” groups across the globe, was that we had to “close” Gitmo and either try the prisoners who were there or release them? Yes, I believe it was. Not only that, but as I wrote about a week ago, it wasn’t Bush who wanted to close down Gitmo, but he didn’t have a choice after all the whining and handwringing by the left, including the bleeding heart liberal lawyers –including some at AG Holder’s law firm – who defended some of the detainees, defenses that culminated into a couple of SCOTUS rulings that essentially forced the Bush administration to have to release Gitmo prisoners. The precise reason the administration didn’t want them to be released is due to the fear that they’d go right back to what they’re doing. But the left wouldn’t listen to reason. It was all about playing politics with our national security, and nothing more. And now the chickens have come home to roost.

In short, if it weren’t for bleeding heart left wingers like the Eric Holders and Barack Obamas of this world who got their knickers in a twist over so-called “terrorist rights,” then the Gitmo thugs wouldn’t have been released to go back to a life of Islamofascist terrorism in the first place. Blaming Bush is just a convenient fallback for them to cover up their own significant, shameless part in that 20% recidivism rate.

As far as Brennan’s comments on the 20% recidivism rate not being “that bad,” I agree with Ed Morrissey:

[Senator Lindsey] Graham can’t even wait for [Fox News Sunday’s Chris] Wallace to finish the sentence to demand Brennan’s firing, and he’s right. The comparison between recidivism rates for “pickpockets”, the example used by Wallace, and terrorists is a complete non-sequitur. No one expects pickpockets or armed robbers to locked up for life on their first conviction, but terrorism is an entirely different manner. Americans don’t have to face the consequences of a 20% recidivism rate for foreign terrorists captured during a war unless our government gives them that opportunity by treating them like pickpockets. That’s apparently Brennan’s approach, and Barack Obama’s too for that matter.

Exactly. It’s the pre-9/11 mentality all over again, and it’s a mentality that doesn’t just start with Brennan but in fact goes all the way to the top to the President himself. Brennan should step down or be asked, ahem, politely to resign but many more who share this view within the administration need to go, too, via the same process. And if they’re elected officials, as is the case with O’Biden, November 2012 will provide the American people with the opportunity to right the wrong done in November 2008 with the election of this duncetastic duo.

It’s a long way off, but hopefully the results will be well worth the wait.

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