The Daily Banter

GOP: Bergdahl Deal is Obama’s ‘Willie Horton Moment’ Even Though Bush Released More Detainees

Yes, the Republican leadership went there. Back in 2012, when a deal to release Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an American POW held by the Taliban for five years, was first on the table, Republicans reportedly described the idea as President Obama’s “Willie Horton moment.”

As you may or may not know, Willie Horton was the subject of a racially charged attack ad aired by the 1988 Bush/Quayle campaign in which a narrator described how Horton was furloughed from prison by Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis only to attack and rape a woman in Maryland. In other words, by releasing five Taliban leaders from Guantanamo and into the custody of house arrest in Qatar in exchange for the release of Sgt. Bergdahl, Obama is inviting attacks against our soldiers by the five former detainees.

Classy. If this is Obama’s “Willie Horton moment” (it’s not), we have no choice but to ask how the Republican leadership would react to President Bush’s record on Gitmo detainee recidivism is they were actually aware of how comparatively bad it was?

So here we go again. The following is an overview of detainees released from Gitmo who subsequently returned to the battlefield and engaged in terrorist activities… prior to January 20, 2009.

–According to a study by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) in 2012, 532 Guantanamo detainees were released prior to Inauguration Day, 2009.

–A total of 92 of those former detainees became “returnees,” that is: they returned to the battlefield to fight Americans. Using the GOP leadership’s metaphor, that’s 92 “Willie Hortons” under President Bush.

–An additional 70 former detainees are suspected of returning to the battlefield, but weren’t, as of the time of the report, confirmed as returnees.

–The total Guantanamo recidivism rate under the Bush administration was 30.5 percent. In other words, one third of all terrorist detainees released from Guantanamo re-engaged in terrorism, chiefly in Afghanistan and Iraq.

–Comparatively, as of 2011, only 67 Guantanamo detainees had been released under President Obama. Only three have been confirmed as having returned to the battlefield, along with two suspected returnees for a recidivism rate of 7.5 percent.

Who are some of these former detainees and what became of them after they were released?…. READ MORE