The number of former Guantánamo Bay detainees suspected of re-engaging in terrorism or insurgency after being released by President Obama doubled from six to 12 in the six months through January, according to data released Tuesday by the administration.
Critics of Obama’s plan to close the Guantánamo detention facility are certain to use the new totals to bolster their arguments that the recidivism rate is too high to continue releasing prisoners to foreign countries.
Of the 144 detainees released under Obama, the number now confirmed to be back in the fight is seven, according to the report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The number of Obama-era releases suspected of re-engaging is now 12.
In addition, one more former detainee who was released under President George W. Bush is now suspected of rejoining the fight.
Overall, 118 of the 676 prisoners released under both presidents are confirmed to have participated in terrorism, while another 86 are suspected.
The report defines suspected as plausible but unverified or single-sourced reports about a detainee being directly involved in terrorist or insurgent activity.
The report also says that some of those still held at Guantánamo could return to terrorism if released in the future.
“Based on trends identified during the past eleven years, we assess that some detainees currently at GTMO will seek to reengage in terrorist or insurgent activities after they are transferred,” the intelligence report said. “Transfers to countries with ongoing conflicts and internal instability, as well as recruitment by insurgent and terrorist organizations, could pose problems.
“While enforcement of transfer conditions may deter reengagement by many former detainees and delay reengagement by others, some detainees who are determined to reengage will do so regardless of any transfer conditions, albeit probably at a lower rate than if they were transferred without conditions.”
Republicans have roundly criticized Obama’s plan to close the detention facility. On Tuesday, Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsMcConnell gets GOP wake-up call Bob Dole, Pat Roberts endorse Kansas AG Derek Schmidt for governor Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm MORE (R-Kan.) introduced a resolution co-sponsored by four other Republicans rejecting the plan.
Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) said the new numbers are further evidence the facility shouldn’t be closed. Jenkins's district is home to Fort Leavenworth, one of the sites the Pentagon has considered for housing detainees if Guantánamo were closed.
“More and more, we are hearing about ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees rejoining the battlefield in hopes of harming Americans at home and abroad,” she said in a written statement Tuesday. “This is another reason why we must reject the President’s so-called ‘plan’ to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and increase transparency on future transfers. These detainees are some of the most dangerous people in the world – they should never be allowed the opportunity to reengage in terrorist activities.”