New Jersey law professor alleges Pentagon inflates recidivism of freed Gitmo detainees

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Professor claims DoD inflates Gitmo recidivism

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A New Jersey law professor and his students are alleging that the Defense Department has inflated recidivism rates of former Guantanamo prisoners to sway public opinion against the men.

The professor, Mark Denbeaux of Seton Hall University Law School, said an April report from the Pentagon concludes that one in seven of the 534 prisoners transferred abroad from Guantanamo have returned to terrorism or militant activity — numbers that he says don’t add up.

“DoD has issued ‘recidivism’ numbers again, and again they are wrong and make no sense either independently or in comparison with the DoD’s previous numbers, definitions, names or reports,” Denbeaux said in a statement e-mailed Tuesday to The Associated Press.

Denbeaux and his lawyer son, Joshua, have issued reports in the past that also have questioned the Pentagon’s previous recidivism data, and have analyzed various Guantanamo transcripts and records.

The latest Pentagon recidivism analysis documents 74 recidivists, but lacks 45 names, the statement said, adding that of the 29 names given, only half are labeled “confirmed” recidivists. Denbeaux also alleges that the analysis includes men who were never at Guantanamo.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, flatly dismissed the latest criticism from Denbeaux, whose previous reports have served as ammunition for Guantanamo critics.

“We fundamentally disagree with the conclusions drawn by Professor Denbeaux and his students,” Gordon said. “The return to terrorism analysis made public by the Defense Department is based on classified information, to which he had no access.”

Gordon said the Pentagon’s unclassified summaries are “designed to assist the public in understanding complex national security issues without revealing information that would prove damaging” to intelligence-gathering capabilities.

“We stand by the information and its authenticity,” Gordon said.

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