Andrew Sullivan raises a great point by asking that very question. The right is in a frenzy over the article I posted earlier about the released Gitmo detainee that was involved in the U.S. embassy attack in Yemen. What they are trying to do is create a strawman here. If our prisons are so at risk for these people to escape, then we have much bigger problems. Terrorists go for these big glamorous attacks. They take a lot of planning and resources to pull off, meaning there is more time to catch them. That is actually a lot better than some serial rapist or mass murder who would escape and just go out and start doing his crimes all over again instantly.
I still believe there is some serious questions regarding the detainee released from Gitmo. First and foremost, it really casts a dark shadow on the intelligence community that Bush was supposed to have overhauled. Why did they let him go if he was really such a bad man? There is also a chance that he wasn’t so bad when caught. Perhaps this guy was actually innocent, but the treatment he received at Gitmo forced him over to the bad side. I would love to see the Obama administration really dig into this to find out, as I wouldn’t be shocked one bit if that did happen. We have been warned that could happen for years.
But there is still something to think about here. This guy didn’t escape Gitmo, like Frank Lee Morris of Alcatraz fame. Instead he was released. That is a key word that seems to be missing from the wingnut argument, like this one from Gateway Pundit:
Again, there are at least 61 former Gitmo detainees who returned to terror.
Barack Obama wants to close Gitmo.
Or this one on Pajamas Media:
Closing Guantanamo and the court decisions granting enemy combatants access to the US legal system will jointly make it impossible for the US to detain prisoners again.
These people are so dunk on the Bush/Cheney era Kool-Aid that they can not comprehend the most serious issue here. Our military, under the command of George W. Bush, let this guy go into the wild. So I need to ask again – was this a failure in our intelligence and military court system, or did our system actually create this guy through the treatment he received? This isn’t an attempt to take a jab at the former administration or Gitmo, but rather it’s a very serious question that should be asked so it doesn’t happen again.
Obama in no way said he was closing Gitmo and letting everyone go. On the contrary, he wants to investigate every legal option we have available to bring them to justice. The report by the New York Times is not bad news for the Obama administration. On the contrary, it is supporting evidence that our system under George Bush was flawed – fatally flawed. Obama wants to overhaul that system, and this report is just the proof he needs that the system does need overhauled.
And I do stand by my former statement that having all these people in the same closed facility is much more dangerous than having them separate and spread throughout the world. People learn to communicate in prison, regardless of any rules or separation. That means again reaffirms my earlier notion that this detainee could have actually been innocent, but became a “product of the system”. In other words – we created this terrorist by the very actions President Obama wants to get rid of and the right wants to keep.
(Updated below the fold)
Here is another example of the right’s attempt to spin this story, by Erick Erickson of RedState:
I have previously said Barack Obama changing the Bush administration policies on terror would get many of us killed.
He seems backwards here. It was the Bush administration policies that helped get this guy released and try to kill Americans – not Obama’s. It seems like the Republicans are more worried about political belief than the safety of America.
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air writes:
How did Shirhi get released? He told the Gitmo tribunals that he only traveled to Iran and Afghanistan to get carpets for his family’s store. The Pentagon’s dossier on Abu Sayyaf showed that he trained at a terrorist camp outside of Kabul, went to Iran to bring extremists into Afghanistan, and wanted to assassinate a writer on which a mullah had placed a fatwa for his writings. Shihri was fortunate that his review came at a time when the Bush administration was getting enormous pressure to reduce the number of inmates at Gitmo, and Shihri went into the Saudi rehab program. A year later, Shihri disappeared — and now he’s running the AQ network in Yemen.
So then Bush released this guy for political reasons. They had all this evidence of this guy being a full blown terrorist and didn’t even think about putting him on trial, but rather hand him over to Bush’s buddies in Saudi Arabia – all because of “political pressure”. Bush put politics above security, which lead to an attack, and yet somehow this is all bad for Obama? Wow my head is spinning from all the spin.
Cernig has much more on this:
I’d just like to point something out to the many rightwingers who are frothing at the mouth today over the NYT’s story that a former Gitmo detainee has become the deputy leader of Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch.
The Bush administration released this man in 2007, without trial -a decision made by political appointees, not judicial review – and handed him over to the Saudis who let him walk.