Today in the New York Times, Robert F. Worth begins a story as follows:
The emergence of a former Guantánamo Bay detainee as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda‘s Yemeni branch has underscored the potential complications in carrying out the executive order President Obama signed Thursday that the detention center be shut down within a year.
Had Times editors inserted “pointlessness” for “complications,” the sentence might have been of some analytic value. As it stands, the lede is a mystery: what’s less complicated than a freed terrorist returning to terrorism? In 2007, Said Ali al-Shihri was released to Saudi Arabia, where he went through a “rehabilitation program for former jihadists,” before zipping over to Yemen to rise through the al Qaeda ranks. Not so complicated.
Worth quotes an American official as saying, “The lesson here is, whoever receives former Guantánamo detainees needs to keep a close eye on them.” I’m not so sure that’s the lesson. If countries like Saudi Arabia and Yemen could be finger wagged into keeping a close eye on jihadists, the World Trade Center would be standing and Americans’ biggest safety concern would be some bird that caught a cold in Southeast Asia. I think the lesson here is more like: Guantánamo is actually filled with criminals.
And, by the way, just how did al-Shihri manage to escape the clutches of the demonic and ruthless Bush Torture Regime? “The detainee stated he would attempt to work at his family’s furniture store if it is still in business.” Just as soon as he went through jihad rehab, I guess.