Leaked out yesterday was information from a new classified Pentagon report saying more former detainees are returning to terrorist activity after being released to their home countries.
Geoff Morrell, press secretary for Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, told reporters at a Pentagon briefing Wednesday that the number has gone up since last year and added, “I don’t think that trend has reversed itself.” But Morrell would not go into detail about how much of an increase has been seen, because the report is classified, but the number leaked out was 20%.
The people released must be amongst the terrorists’ best and brightest, because according to Congressman Mark Kirk (R-Ill) “All the major leaders” of the Taliban opposition in Southern Afghanistan are former Guantanamo prisoners who have been released.
Kirk is also a today a U.S. Naval Reserve Intelligence officer, who was deployed in Afghanistan during the holidays. He spoke today, about what he learned during deployment to an audience at Chicago’s Union League Club.
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“What I hear is that the released Guantanamo prisoners are the toughest ones to crack, the most committed to jihad,” Kirk said. “So I am urging the administration not to release any more prisoners.”
Kirk’s position as a congressman and a Naval Intelligence officer with security clearance puts him in a unique position to deploy to war zones while congress is not in session. Politically, it also helps his status as the front-runner in Illinois’ Republican primary election for the U.S. Senate seat held by Barack Obama.
Kirk cited an unclassified Department of Defense report that says 61 former Guantanamo prisoners have returned to fighting against U.S. forces. When those men return to the field, their time at Guantanamo earns them a certain cachet with fellow insurgents, Kirk said.
Lawyers for many of those men have argued that they were never in the fight against U.S. forces and were turned over on the battlefield in Afghanistan in exchange for bounties.
Kirk said he had Christmas with Canadian soldiers, including four who were killed with a Calgary Herald reporter few days later when their car hit an explosive.
Kirk rang in New Year’s Eve with Romanian soldiers who managed to smuggle alcohol and improvised fireworks into Afghanistan for a New Year celebration.
“They somehow got alcohol into the country and they had flares so there were fireworks,” Kirk said.
Kirk has been a vocal critic of the administration’s plans to close Guantanamo and relocate prisoners to a largely unused prison in Thomson, Illinois. He warned it would make Illinois “ground zero” for Islamic terrorism and endanger the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower.
…While Kirk has been a vocal critic of Obama on Guantanamo, health care and other issues, he has commended Obama’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan and said he saw U.S.-backed troops are gaining ground in many areas of Afghanistan.
More than just making Illinois “ground zero” for al Qaeda attacks it seems that we are sending the Taliban their new round of leadership. Most of these terrorists who were released were released during the Bush Administration, but President Obama wants to release a lot more. Maybe he should rethink that.