A top Defense Department official told the Senate Thursday that nearly 30 percent of terrorist detainees that have been released from Guantanamo Bay have either returned to the fight against the United States, or are suspected of doing so.
But Brian McKeon, a principal deputy under secretary at the Defense Department, also said this so-called "reengagement rate" has fallen under the Obama administration, as officials have taken more time to carefully review the risk of letting these terrorists go.
A Public Affairs Officer escorts media through the currently closed Camp X-Ray which was the first detention facility to hold 'enemy combatants' at the U.S. Naval Station on June 27, 2013 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, houses the American detention center for 'enemy combatants'. Credit: Getty Images
McKeon told the Senate Armed Services Committee that in total, Defense has confirmed that 17.3 percent of all released detainees have rejoined the fight against the United States, or 107 of 620 releases. Additionally, 12.4 percent are suspected of reengaging, or 77 or 620.
That means 184 of 620 releases either have or are suspected of returning to the fight, or 29.7 percent.
He said the Obama administration has made strides in reducing this rate since it took office in 2009. Before Guantanamo detainees are transferred, a rigorous analysis is done to assess the risk of these detainees.
"A primary concern we have regarding a potential transfer is whether a detainee will 'return to the fight' or otherwise reengage in acts that threaten the United States or U.S. persons," he said. "We take the possibility of reengagement very seriously."
Since 2009, 7.9 percent of all released detainees are either confirmed or suspected of reengaging, he said. That's 6 of 88 releases that have occurred since January 2009.
In contrast, 33.3 percent of all releases before January 2009 are either confirmed or suspected of reengaging — 101 of 532 releases in that time period.