On Gitmo, and al Qaeda Recruitment Tools

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on December 28, 2010

Everyone knows that there is a connection between keeping the prison at Guantanamo Bay open, and al Qaeda’s ability to recruit more terrorists, right? I mean, we’ve heard about the connection ad nauseam, so it must be true, mustn’t it?

Well, not exactly. I like the following passage:

. . . This point returns us to an argument I have made before that the administration needs to adjust its talk about the facility. Three simple recommendations:

  1. If you’re not going to fight to close it, stop insisting that closure is a national security imperative.
  2. If you’re not going to fight to close it, stop delegitimizing it as an offense to American values.
  3. More generally, stop overstating the importance of closure.

The administration is not entirely the master of its fate with respect to Guantanamo’s future. It can, however, control the way it talks about the subject. To the extent it insists that Guantanamo is a major Al Qaeda recruiting tool (which it is not) and that closing it is a national security imperative (which it is not) and then fails to close it (which it will), it makes itself look ridiculous.

Reinforcement for the argument that there is no connection between Gitmo being kept open, and al Qaeda’s ability to recruit is found here. See especially the following line from Thomas Joscelyn’s keyword search of 34 translated speeches: “Guantanamo is mentioned a mere 7 times in the 34 messages we reviewed.”

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