Who's at Gitmo?
Jeralyn at TalkLeft points to a fascinating study led by Mark Denbeaux of Seton Hall Law School. Denbeaux and his colleagues analyzed the summaries of the Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRT) for over 500 detainees at Guantanamo Naval Base.* (Original report available in .pdf)
CSRT documents summarize the evidence that the government said it used to designate the as an enemy combatant. Denbaux's study confirms that the threshold for EC status is incredibly low:
- 55% did not commit any hostile act against the United States or its coalition allies
- Only 8% of the detainees were characterized as al Qaeda fighters. Of the remaining detainees, 40% have no definitive connection with al Qaeda at all and 18% are have no definitive affiliation with either al Qaeda or the Taliban
- The majority of detainees are not alleged to have committed hostile acts. These prisoners are being held because of alleged associations with terrorist organizations
- Some are being detained for being "associated" with groups that don't even appear on the DHS watchlist of terrorist organizations
- "Association" covers a wide range of alleged involvements: “fighters for" (8%), “members of" (30%), by far the most common designation was "associated with" which could mean as little as having spoken to a member of Al Qaeda (60%), Two percent of the detainees who were designated EC for a nexus of involvement with a terrorist organization didn't even make the "associated with" standard.**
By and large, the Gitmo detainees aren't even alleged to have been high-level Taliban leaders or al Qaeda operatives. Far from being uniformly the worst of the worst, most of the detainees at Gitmo haven't even been shown to be enemies, let alone combatants.
Hat tip to Brad Plumer.
*Of the approximately 760 prisoners brought to Guantanamo since 2002, 180 have been released and 76 to other countries. Many of the prisoners detained on the scantiest evidence remain in custody.**Update: I combined the last two bullet points in the list and changed the wording slightly for clarity.