New York Times legal reporter Charlie Savage displayed a novel angle on terrorist recidivism in his story on recent outbreaks of violence among the terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay: "Despair Drives U.S. Detainees To Stage Revolt." (Is your heart breaking yet?)
Savage wrote on Thursday's front page:
In the early afternoon quiet, guards in camouflage fatigues walked the two-tiered cellblocks of Camp Six, where the most cooperative of the 166 terrorism suspects held in the military prison here are housed. From a darkened control room, other guards watched banks of surveillance monitors showing prisoners in white clothing -- pacing, sleeping or reading -- in their cells.
But the relative calm on display to visiting reporters last week was deceiving. Days earlier, guards had raided Camp Six and locked down protesting prisoners who had blocked security cameras, forbidding them to congregate in a communal area. A hunger strike is now in its third month, with 93 prisoners considered to be participating -- more than half the inmates and twice the number before the raid.
The risk aversion comes amid claims by intelligence agencies that 16 percent of 603 former detainees were “confirmed” -- and an additional 11 percent were “suspected” -- of taking part in terrorist activities after they left Guantánamo. While that would also suggest that 72 percent are living quietly, any more releases would create some jeopardy, both direct and political.
Still, the fact that the United States continues to imprison men long since designated for potential transfer is a source of growing criticism. Navi Pillay, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, singled out those prisoners when she recently denounced the prison.
"72 percent are living quietly" translates as "Seven out of 10 inmates released from Gitmo aren't yet suspected of blowing more things and/or people up," hardly a confidence-boosting stat.
The Times published on April 15 an op-ed from a Guantanamo Bay hunger striker (based on a translated phone call with his lawyer) under the not-at-all-overly dramatic headline "Gitmo Is Killing Me." According to his own words, completely unchallenged by the page's editors, Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, suspected of being a guard for Osama bin Laden, was just in the wrong place at the wrong time (never mind the evidence from the Times' own database).