Jaws dropped this weekend when the man in charge of counterterrorism for the Obama administration suggested that a 20% recidivism rate for released terrorists should be acceptable to the Americans the terrorists target. John Brennan’s comparison between American criminals and terrorists at war with the US gets reaction first from Brennan’s boss, National Security Adviser Jim Jones, with Chris Wallace on Fox News. Wallace plays the clip and Jones struggles to justify it, admitting that any kind of recidivism rate isn’t good at all:
Jones says, “We can’t keep them locked up for life without some kind of due process,” but that’s exactly what the military commissions provide. Even Barack Obama acknowledges that, as the White House has already designated the commission process for a few of the Gitmo terrorists now. The military has already provided their equivalent of habeas corpus hearings with each detainee to ensure that the US has a legitimate interest in holding them. The commissions can act to confirm their status as terrorists, after which we can sentence them to life in order to keep them from committing more terrorism.
But that’s not even the real point. While their terrorist allies continue to make war on the US, we have every right to detain them indefinitely anyway. If they were stupid enough to sign up for a perpetual war as unlawful combatants, then we have no reason to release them, no more than we would have released captured prisoners in World War II before the end of the conflict. We have no requirement to release any unlawful combatant until the war is over.
Lindsey Graham has heard enough, and wants Brennan out of the administration, as he tells Wallace in another segment:
Graham can’t even wait for Wallace to finish the sentence to demand Brennan’s firing, and he’s right. The comparison between recidivism rates for “pickpockets”, the example used by Wallace, and terrorists is a complete non-sequitur. No one expects pickpockets or armed robbers to locked up for life on their first conviction, but terrorism is an entirely different manner. Americans don’t have to face the consequences of a 20% recidivism rate for foreign terrorists captured during a war unless our government gives them that opportunity by treating them like pickpockets. That’s apparently Brennan’s approach, and Barack Obama’s too for that matter.
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