January 16, 2009


I wrote on Wednesday about the Pentagon's claim that 61 Gitmo detainees had "returned to terror" and noted previous Seton Hall Law studies that said the Pentagon was...umm...lying through it's teeth.

Seton Hall now has a new report out examining the evolving claims and hyped allegations entitled Propaganda by the Numbers. The accompanying press release says:

Professor Denbeaux of the Center for Policy & Research has said that the Center has determined that “DOD has issued “recidivism” numbers 43 times, and each time they have been wrong—this last time the most egregiously so.”

Denbeaux stated: “Once again, they’ve failed to identify names, numbers, dates, times, places, or acts upon which their report relies. Every time they have been required to identify the parties, they have been forced to retract their false ID’s and their numbers. They have included people who have never even set foot in Guantanamo —much less were they released from there. They have counted people as “returning to the fight” for having written an Op-ed piece in the New York Times and for having appeared in a documentary exhibited at the Cannes Film Festival. They have revised and retracted their internally conflicting definitions, criteria, and their numbers so often that they have ceased to have any meaning— except as an effort to sway public opinion by painting a false portrait of the supposed dangers of these men.

Fourty-three times they have given numbers—which conflict with each other—all of which are seriously undercut by the DOD statement that “they do not track” former detainees. Rather than making up numbers “willy-nilly” about post release conduct, America might be better served if our government actually kept track of them.”

The study itself notes that the Pentagon keeps hedging it's bets:

Eighty-two percent (82%) of the publicly made claims catalogued in the Appendix of this report contain qualifying language, including terms such as: “at least”; “somewhere on the order of”; “approximately”; “around”; “just short of”; “we believe”; “estimated”; “roughly”; “more than”; “a couple”; “a few”; “some”; “several”; and “about.”

Why? Because the Department of Defense "does not keep track of released detainees nor does it follow their post release conduct". It makes these claims up from data collected which might show Gitmo detainee involvement but having previously claimed as recidivists men who were never in Gitmo in the first place and someone whose only terrorist act after release was to pen an op-ed for the new York Times it's amazing that the mainstream takes them seriously.

When you really, truly, need a statistic pulled out of someone's ass - call the Pentagon's Geoff Morrell.

Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.