Elisabeth Bumiller nabbed Thursday's lead slot with a story based on a report leaked from the Department of Defense, which showed that around 15% of terror suspects transferred overseas from Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba had returned to violent activity, a figure that will probably make it evenharder for Obama to keep his campaign promise to close the prison: "1 in 7 Detainees Rejoined Jihad, Pentagon Finds - Debate on Guantanamo - Report 'Under Review' as President Readies Speech on Prison."
This may be Bumiller's biggest scoop on her new beat, having been an anti-Bush, anti-RepublicanWhite House reporter before moving to the Pentagonupon Obama's election.
An unreleased Pentagon report concludes that about one in seven of the 534 prisoners already transferred abroad from the detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has returned to terrorism or militant activity, according to administration officials.
The conclusion could strengthen the arguments of critics who have warned against the transfer or release of any more detainees as part of President Obama's plan to shut down the prison by January. Past Pentagon reports on Guantánamo recidivism have been met with skepticism from civil liberties groups and criticized for their lack of detail.
The Pentagon promised in January that the latest report would be released soon, but Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said this week that the findings were still "under review."
Two administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said the report was being held up by Defense Department employees fearful of upsetting the White House, at a time when even Congressional Democrats have begun to show misgivings over Mr. Obama's plan to close Guantánamo.
The report was made available by an official who said the delay in releasing it was creating unnecessary "conspiracy theories" about the holdup.
A Defense Department official said there was little will at the Pentagon to release the report because it had become politically radioactive under Mr. Obama.
"If we hold it, then everybody claims it's political and you're protecting the Obama administration," said the official, who asked for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. "And if we let it go, then everybody says you're undermining Obama."
A compromise from the Times. They went ahead and published this notwithstanding the fact that it's a crap sandwich for The One, especially at this particular moment in the debate, but they bent over backwards to emphasize that the delay's all DOD's fault, not his. So he's really sort of a victim, you see, even though as C-in-C he could have demanded the report any time he wanted.
Bumiller made a meaningless comparison between Muslim terrorists and American jailbirds to downplay the report's damning findings:
Terrorism experts said a 14 percent recidivism rate was far lower than the rate for prisoners in the United States, which, they said, can run as high as 68 percent three years after release. They also said that while Americans might have a lower level of tolerance for recidivism among Guantánamo detainees, there was no evidence that any of those released had engaged in elaborate operations like the Sept. 11 attacks.