False ‘Recidivism’ Meme Lives On In Obama Admin Letter, ABC Report

The Obama Administration has adopted the flawed rhetoric of “recidivism” to discuss former Guantanamo detainees who are now said to be engaged in violence, according to a new ABC report, which uses the same problematic language.

The item by ABC’s Jake Tapper, titled “Brennan: All Transferred Detainees Who Returned to Terrorism Were Released by Bush, No Recidivism for Those Released by Obama,” broke the news of a letter from national security adviser John Brennan to Nancy Pelosi that states:“Intelligence Community assesses that 20 percent of detainees transferred from Guantanamo are confirmed or suspected of recidivist activity. … I want to underscore the fact that all of these cases relate to detainees released during the previous administration and under the prior detainee review process.”

As we’ve previously reported, the problem with referring to these numbers (which themselves have not been substantiated by the Pentagon) as “recidivism” is that it wrongly assumes that all Gitmo detainees were terrorists when they were captured.

As a New York Times correction on the matter put it last year, the use of the term “accepted a premise of the [DOD] report that all the former prisoners had been engaged in terrorism before their detention. Because that premise remains unproved …”