Obama Rolls Dice With American Lives Over GITMO Releases

J. D. Gordon Former Pentagon Spokesman, George W. Bush Administration
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Snake eyes, you die. Seven, eleven, you live. All other rolls of the dice are anybody’s guess.

Yes, just like craps, such is the randomness of President Barack Obama’s gamble on releasing so many radical Islamic terror suspects from Guantanamo and hoping they don’t kill Americans and our allies. Yet sadly it’s no game, countless lives are at stake.

Of the 779 detainees ever held at Gitmo, almost 650 detainees have been released. U.S. intelligence authorities report that nearly 1 in 3 are confirmed or suspected of having returned to terrorism.

Ex-Gitmo prisoners have become leaders of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Ansar Al-Sharia in Libya. One became a suicide bomber in Iraq. They’ve killed Americans or our allies in each place, most notably in Benghazi.

Between 20 and 30 men have reportedly joined the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, serving a de facto regime that’s beheading American and British citizens, while waging genocide against Christians, Yazidis and fellow Muslims in their way.

Yet Mr. Obama continues to roll the dice anyway, allowing fate to decide whether more Americans live or die at their mercy. If the recidivism numbers aren’t high enough now, the ones who remain at Guantanamo are the most dangerous, meaning as more are released, the risk of them returning to terrorism goes up.

By emptying Guantanamo, he’s fulfilling a campaign promise made to the political left, both at home and overseas.

Mr. Obama believes that America has no right to keep enemy combatants locked away without a trial, and has pushed to extend full Constitutional rights for foreign terror suspects trying to kill countless Americans. To the international left, Guantanamo represents the Bush administration’s supposed overreach in the war on terror. Spreading a healthy dose of anti-U.S. propaganda, they portray detainees as the victims — a combination of innocent goat herders, freedom fighters and modern day Che Guevara’s simply fighting the power.

So let’s talk specifics.  Who were the 28 detainees released by President Obama in 2014?

According to their formerly classified intelligence files on the New York Times website under The Guantanamo Docket, they’re Yemenis, Afghans, Tunisians, Syrians, a Saudi, Kuwaiti, Palestinian and an Algerian. Nearly all are members of either Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezb-E-Gulbiddin (HIG), Tunisian Combatant Group, Hamas and affiliated terror groups.

Nearly all were determined by intelligence authorities as “high risk” meaning they are “likely to pose a threat to the U.S., its interests, and allies.” About 1 in 3 fought U.S. and coalition forces at the mountainous Tora Bora, Osama Bin Laden’s last stand in Afghanistan.

Five were top Taliban leaders, specifically a Deputy Defense Minister, Deputy Intel Minister, two former governors and a Provincial Security Chief.  Despite their leadership of a genocidal terror group which may re-take Afghanistan once U.S. troops are withdrawn, they were traded this past summer for Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl who had walked off post after disparaging Americans in scathing e-mails home.

Four have suicide operations training. Two have explicitly said they will return to the fight when released. One was arrested for possession of Stinger missiles and uranium “which detainee’s recovered documents indicate was intended for use in a nuclear device,” according to his file. In addition to Afghanistan, some have also fought in Bosnia.

Considering how dangerous these veteran terrorists are, why would any American official, let alone the Commander-in-Chief release them?

They say we must live by our values and the rule of law. Yet during wartime, America has always kept enemy combatants locked up. And isn’t protecting the public an important value?

They say Guantanamo hurts America’s reputation. Well, I don’t know of any other country that lost 3,000 people in one single terrorist attack, so we’ll see how they react if and when that happens. By comparison, the French would have the detainees serving long prison terms considering tough domestic terrorism laws, Russia would have sent them all to Siberia forever, and China would have executed them all.

They say Guantanamo is too expensive, citing disingenuously inflated costs per detainee. Even so, how expensive was 9/11? What is the price tag on the lives of Americans killed? And now that the State Department has issued a $5 million bounty on a Saudi leader of Al Qaeda formerly held at Guantanamo, we see the folly in releasing terrorists who are likely to rejoin the fight.

And finally they say the detainees should be brought to the U.S. mainland, and that no one has ever escaped Supermax. Well, they don’t have to escape if left-wing, activist judges let them out. Which is Mr. Obama’s little secret on Gitmo. As a former constitutional law professor, he knows the White House couldn’t keep them in jail on U.S. soil even if he wanted to.

Americans ought to be both alarmed and outraged at how President Obama and his closest advisors are rolling the dice with our lives over Guantanamo. It’s time the Congress act to stop this madness before any more of our fellow citizens are killed.

J.D. Gordon is a retired Navy Commander and former Pentagon spokesman who served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2005-2009. He is a Senior Adviser to several think tanks based in Washington, DC.