CCR GTMO Attorneys Call Government Recidivism Claims Unfounded

For Immediate Release

CCR GTMO Attorneys Call Government Recidivism Claims Unfounded

Rights Group Criticizes Administration for Mishandling of Civilian Trial Issue

NEW YORK - Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which
represents Guantanamo detainees and coordinates the work of hundreds of
pro bono attorneys on legal cases and resettlement efforts, issued the
following statement:

In the last two days, the U.S. Congress voted to block the use of
any funds to pay for civilian trials of Guantanamo detainees in the
U.S., and the government released unsubstantiated statistics on what it
persists in calling recidivism or re-engagement of former detainees,
shooting itself in the foot, through political miscalculation and
propaganda, in its efforts to close the prison.
 

CCR criticizes the vague and unsubstantiated claims and
misinformation in the National Intelligence Director's release of
figures regarding the supposed "recidivism" of former Guantanamo
detainees. The director's summary report, which is the latest in a line
of reports that have been repeatedly discredited for using dubious
classifications to produce unreliable statistics, makes unsupported
assessments of the future risk of recidivism in the event further
detainees are released.
 

It also persists in using the language of "re-engagement" to
describe individuals, despite the fact that the majority of them should
never have been detained in the first place and were known early on by
the government to be innocent. It is not possible to return to the
battlefield if you were never there in the first place. If the
underlying basis for most detentions was suspect, the claims of
re-engagement are more so and only serve to whitewash the original
situation. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, a senior State Department
official who served in the Bush administration between 2002-2005,
recently stated in a federal court declaration in support of a former
detainee's claims of wrongful detention that the Bush administration
knew early on that the majority of the men at Guantanamo were wrongfully
detained, but did not release them because of political concerns that
doing so could harm the government's push for war.
 

The latest report only summarizes its figures without actually
naming any alleged recidivists or including any information that would
enable meaningful scrutiny. Earlier reports that did identify
individuals by name revealed, for example, that former detainee Moazzem
Begg had been classified as a "recidivist" because he participated in a
documentary about Guantanamo.  As we now know from cables released by
WikiLeaks, Mr. Begg has been privately championed by the State
Department for his lack of animosity towards the United States since his
release and for his valuable work assisting with the resettlement of
other detainees. 
 

An August 2010 U.S. Department of Justice letter responding to a
Freedom of Information Act request reveals that criteria for identifying
recidivism are arbitrary and can change at any time: "DIA [United
States Defense Intelligence Agency] does not endeavor to create any sort
of firm guidelines for identifying a detainee as having returned to the
fight." 

In the absence of specific and concrete information, which has been
called for each time new reports have been released, the latest
findings can simply not be assessed or trusted. They only serve to
thwart the release of men whom the courts or the government have
determined should not be detained and to fuel unfounded generalizations
about detainees, the vast majority of whom have been successfully
repatriated and resettled. 

CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo for the last eight
years - sending the first ever habeas attorney to the base and sending
the first attorney to meet with an individual transferred from CIA
"ghost detention" to Guantanamo.  CCR has been responsible for
organizing and coordinating more than 500 pro bono lawyers across the
country to represent the men at Guantanamo, ensuring that nearly all
have the option of legal representation. In addition, CCR has been
working to resettle the approximately 30 men who remain at Guantánamo
because they cannot return to their country of origin for fear of
persecution and torture.
 

###

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

Share This Article

More in: