Other Than That, the Story Was Accurate

Daily Best of the Web   —   Posted on June 9, 2014

The following is an excerpt from OpinionJournal.com’s “Best of the Web” written by the editor, James Taranto.

gorilla-manOther Than That, the Story Was Accurate
“UPDATE: Zoo says man shot with tranquilizer dart at Tenerife zoo was not wearing gorilla suit”–Daily Telegraph (London), June 5

Help Wanted
“US Secret Service Seeks Twitter Sarcasm Detector”–headline, BBC website, June 5

How Dangerous Are the Taliban Five?
When asked the other day about the five Taliban detainees released in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl, President Obama acknowledged “the possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us.” Yet while he said “there’s a certain recidivism rate that takes place,” he insisted: “I wouldn’t be doing it if I thought that it was contrary to American national security.”

If the president really believes that, it raises serious questions about his judgment. Consider this background from The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes:

The assessments of the men conducted by Joint Task Force Guantánamo (JTF-GTMO) found that each one presented a “high risk” of returning to the battle if he were released. Other detainees had been assessed as lesser threats, and some had even been cleared for release. Not these prisoners. . . .

When Obama came to Washington, he made clear that one of the immediate goals of his presidency would be to close the facility at Guantánamo. So the president set up his own team, the Guantánamo Review Task Force, made up of lawyers, military officers, intelligence analysts, and diplomats, who would make recommendations to the president about how to handle individual prisoners.

JTF-GTMO’s job was to assess each detainee’s intent and ability to harm the United States, its interests, and its allies. Its assessments were done by men and women who were chiefly concerned with prosecuting a war. The Guantánamo Review Task Force’s mandate was different. It was established simultaneously with President Obama’s order to shutter the facility in one year. That deadline proved impractical, but the task force was formed for the purpose of closing Guantánamo. Clearly, the task force was willing to accept more risk in detainee transfers than JTF-GTMO. Indeed, the task force recommended that dozens of detainees who were deemed “high risk” by JTF-GTMO be transferred.

But even the Obama team recommended that 48 of the remaining Guantánamo detainees be held indefinitely. All five Taliban commanders that Obama released last week were in this group.

The argument for closing Guantanamo rests largely on the belief, as then-Sen. Obama put it in a 2007 debate, “our legitimacy is reduced when we’ve got a Guantanamo that is open.” The enemy has a different perspective, as Reuters reports from Kandahar: “The prisoner swap that freed the last U.S. prisoner of war in Afghanistan shows the Taliban have legitimacy as a movement capable of negotiating successful deals with the United States, a Taliban commander told Reuters on Thursday.”

For more “Best of the Web” click here and look for the “Best of the Web Today” link in the middle column below “Today’s Columnists.”