Missing the 'Larger' Point
4:32 PM, Jul 19, 2011 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
Instead of addressing specific risky transfer practices, Wittes and Chesney wonder if I am “criticizing across the board the decision by the last administration to attempt resettlement and repatriation of detainees.” I have never made such a sweeping criticism, nor do I think such criticism is warranted. They also wonder if I think “the executive branch simply cannot and should not release anyone who previously was determined at some stage to be dangerous.” I have never argued this either.
Wittes and Chesney are confident that the task force improved upon JTF-GTMO’s work even though they have not provided any concrete reason to believe that the task force came to radically different conclusions about the threat-level of the detainee population. JTF-GTMO clearly knows what it is doing. It is a professional intelligence operation and there is no reason to think that it mischaracterized a significant number of the detainees remaining at Gitmo in January 2009. The task force also approved “high” risk transfers to countries that have repeatedly failed to mitigate the security risks involved.
Previously, I asked: “Most importantly, does Wittes know what criteria the task force chose to employ (or was given by the Obama administration) when determining which detainees to transfer?”
The answer to that question is, apparently, “no.”
The senators tasked with questioning Matthew Olsen during his confirmation hearing have every right to ask this and other questions – regardless of what Wittes and Chesney believe.
Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.