Free Markets, Free People


Terrorism = Burglary

Counterterrorism Czar John Brennan made a comparison this weekend that has landed him in hot water. Speaking at the Islamic Center at New York University on Saturday and apparently in response to a question about recidivism among the Gitmo inmates who had been released, he said the rate was about 20%.

Ok, that’s arguable, but it is a number that has been tossed around by any number of people. That isn’t what got him in trouble. If we stipulate that the 20% of terror suspects released have returned to extremism or outright participation in terror activities, most would consider such a rate unacceptable. In fact, most would not be happy with recidivism at all, but understand that 0% is most likely an unrealistic expectation.

But Brenan thinks 20% isn’t so bad:

“People sometimes use that figure, 20 percent, say ‘Oh my goodness, one out of five detainees returned to some type of extremist activity,’” Brennan said. “You know, the American penal system, the recidivism rate is up to something about 50 percent or so, as far as return to crime. Twenty percent isn’t that bad.”

Indeed, the recidivism rate for property crimes is quite high according to the Department of Justice:

Released prisoners with the highest rearrest rates were robbers (70.2%), burglars (74.0%), larcenists (74.6%), motor vehicle thieves (78.8%), those in prison for possessing or selling stolen property (77.4%), and those in prison for possessing, using, or selling illegal weapons (70.2%).

But violent crime, more akin to terrorism – not so much:

Within 3 years, 2.5% of released rapists were arrested for another rape, and 1.2% of those who had served time for homicide were arrested for homicide.

This apparent acceptance of 20% recidivism by terrorists has to inspire tremendous confidence in the public to know the guy who is supposedly engaged in fighting terrorists equates them with the kid who popped the lock on your car and stole your GPS and finds the 20% rate nothing to get excited about . Yes, to him a burglar and someone who blows up embassies are pretty much the same. And he’s quite satisfied that only 20% are going back to burglary, er, blowing up Americans.

Quite satisfied.

~McQ

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29 Responses to Terrorism = Burglary

  • What kind of country locks people up without trial and not based on due process, and seems to believe we can punish them for life by labeling them with an “ism?”  A country with no morality, no belief in individual liberty, and no respect for human freedom.   A country living on fear and the most ignoble traits of human kind would embrace such a policy.   If we become such a country, we deserve whatever fate we bring to ourselves.

    • What kind of country locks people up without trial and not based on due process, and seems to believe we can punish them for life by labeling them with an “ism?”

      >>> Obama’s America.

      Why don’t you name him Scott? You had no trouble blasting Bush by name.

      Why don’t you come out and lay it on the line Scott?

    • PS-

      Stateless nonuniformed combatants captured on the battlefield have no “due process” except for those terrible military tribunals.

      We are not locking up citizens here.  They’re lucky they don’t get summary battlefield judgement via a bullet to the back of the head.

    • A country that cannot tell the difference between ordinary criminals and illegal combatants, and treat them accordingly, is a country that’s opening itself up to terrorism.

      Obviously the process has already failed and needs to be tightened up.

      As Robert Hare (developer of the Psychopathy Checklist) found out from being a prison psychologist, you cannot go by how prisoners present themselves. You can only go by their record of behavior. Obviously, that requires that any prisoner with a record of terrorism or involvement with terrorism should be held beyond the horizon of his movement. With Islamists that is likely going to be for the rest of their lives.

      There can be a process by which the facts are adjudicated, i.e., whether it is true or false that a particular prisoner has such a record. But there will never be a good reason to release someone who has been an active Islamist terrorist. He is by definition involved in an ongoing conspiracy to murder.

      • And P.S.:

        It is clear that terrorists and their fellow travelers seek to use the moral guidelines of a society they seek to attack against that society. For instance, by insisting that illegal combatants be given the due process that is given to civilian criminal defendants. The processes of military justice and the laws of war do not require anything of the kind for illegal combatants, and with good reason. Claiming civilian due process for such combatants is what’s known as a ruse, which is itself a tactic of asymmetrical warfare.

        You’ll know the useful idiot fellow travelers by their immediate willingness to buy into the ruse. Look for the academic label.

    • OK, now after that junior-high-mentality rant, tell us what kind of country kills people without due process, by blowing them up with a Predator missile fired by a drone.

      Answer: a country that has enemies. Like every other large country that ever existed in the history of the world.

      But, Mr. Morality, perhaps you can explain to us why it’s better for the man in the White House who (according to your own evaluation) thinks like you to give permission to blow people up without trial rather than capture and incarcerate them without trial.

      This is precisely the kind of simple-minded evaluation I would expect from a base coward who is congenitally unable to face the real world.

    • Scott, it’s one thing to lock them up under the “law of war” (presuming that the war doesn’t go on forever), but Obama’s attempts to to create permanent detention or “Preventive Detention” using a Constitutional basis under civil and criminal law is quite terrifying.

      “It’s really crossing a constitutional Rubicon,” said Jonathan Hafetz, American Civil Liberties Union attorney who represented Ali al Marri. Mr. al Marri recently pleaded guilty to being an al Qaeda sleeper agent after years being held without charge as an “enemy combatant.”
      Mr. Hafetz says that President Obama is “taking steps that are inconsistent with our legal traditions and values. At the same, he’s closing Guantanamo but he’s creating a new Guantanamo in another form.”

  • What kind of country allows its determined and declared enemies to walk free after they are captured? A dying country.

  • What sort of country provides access to its criminal and civil court systems to persons captured while bearing arms against it?
    Did anyone else catch the story over the weekend that, because we have no policy or facilities to deal with captured non-state combatants, the administration has opted for a kill-instead-of-capture approach?

  • “People sometimes use that figure, 20 percent, say ‘Oh my goodness, one out of five detainees returned to some type of extremist activity,’” Brennan said. “You know, the American penal system, the recidivism rate is up to something about 50 percent or so, as far as return to crime. Twenty percent isn’t that bad.”

    I am reminded of Jack Nicholson in “Mars Attacks!”  The Martians have wiped out the Congress*.  President Dale (Nicholson) goes on TV:

    “I want the people to know that they still have 2 out of 3 branches of the government working for them, and that ain’t bad.”

    Gosh, only 20% of terrorists are going back to their evil ways when we let them go!  Why, that’s not so bad, is it?

    / sarc

    What an idiot.  I’ve seen libs make the same sort of argument about 9-11: “Hey, they only killed 3000 people.  What’s the big deal?  I mean, like, there are still 330 million Americans left.  What are you so worked up about?”

    Diffus - Did anyone else catch the story over the weekend that, because we have no policy or facilities to deal with captured non-state combatants, the administration has opted for a kill-instead-of-capture approach?

    Yeah, I saw that.  Quite aside from the fact that a dead terrorist is a terrorist who won’t tell you anything even if you get his family to talk him into helping you out, it’s sort of draconian, no?  I mean, what sort of country opts just to kill people out of hand without a trial, appeal, cable TV in his prison cell, work release, and halaal prison food???  A country that deserves what it gets, that’s what kind of country it is!

    / sarc

    —-

    (*) I’m not really getting why this was supposed to be a bad thing in the movie, but it was.  Willing suspension of disbelief, I suppose…

  • I think a 20% recidivism rate for politicians would be acceptable.

  • Enemy combatants do get due process.  It’s a different process than citizens (and in fact non-citizens, as we don’t hold Canadian citizens accused of murder indefinitely)  have, but it’s still due process.
    The due process for another state’s warrior against the US is covered in treaties, and to my understanding, the clearest and most applicable is the Geneva Convention.  The US chose to not apply those standards of due process (IMO, correctly) because these warriors are not associated with a state.
    In which case, the Constitution is the rule of law.  The Constitution does not apply to citizens, it applies to the government.  Again, a Canadian or Mexican accused of a crime in the US gets the same 4th and 5th amendment protection as any US citizen.
    Because of that, it is obviously unconstitutional to hold people accused but not convicted of a crime who are not classified as POWs indefinitely.
    If terrorism is an act of war, than detainees are POWs.  If terrorism is a crime, the detainees are criminal defendants.  There’s not another option that passes Constitutional muster.  If there are terrorists at Gitmo, they are criminals, and deserve a fair trial.
    If there is one innocent man held, it’s one too many.

  • By the way, terrorism  is a minor threat.  More people are killed in car accidents in a month here than are killed by terrorism in a decade.   Fear of terrorism is irrational.  Treating it as some kind of “war” is to give into fear and paranoia.  Sure, have a good counter terrorism strategy.  Have laws that can deal with terrorism within rule of law.  But once you simply label people “terrorists” and “enemies” and rationalize doing anything you want because of them, well, you’re no better than Stalin — especially if they are people are simply  part of a suspicious group which hasn’t done anything yet.
    You guys are out of touch with reality, giving into fear.   When confronted, you call those who disagree with you names and ridicule them so as to avoid a clear, rational conversation.   So yeah, I’m talking morality — and rationality.   I’m talking about dealing with reality, not perceptions through a prism of fear.

    • Any country that has an FTC to examine the possibility of etching warnings on marbles (those glass, onyx, and jasper spheres that children play games with) in order to prevent one death a year, has to take terrorism seriously.

    • You don’t know what you are talking about. But then that’s not news.

      Lesson of 9/11: We got off easy.

      Asymmetrical warfare can be as deadly as anything that the terrorists manage to get their hands on.

    • And I’m purposely not responding to the elements of your comment that redefine, yet again, the meaning of creep.

    • So hold up. You’re saying we should just live with terrorism, because it’s not a big deal? And that it’s not a big deal, because the casualty counts are (to date) low relative to the US population?

      By that logic, in what way was Pearl Harbor a big deal?

      • A similar “logic” took hold in France between the two wars. Drained of the will to resist, but with a huge and powerful military, the French were demolished by the Nazis in a matter of weeks. Today’s asymmetrical threat is as or more dangerous than the conventional threat of 1939. We do not want to see that proved, which is why sane people recognize the threat and act accordingly. Strange, stupid, pussified academics blow smoke up their own asses about it.

    • Hey Scott, why is terrorism – so far – a minor relative threat here and a major threat in other parts of the world? There are plenty of places in the rest of the world where fearing terrorism is not irrational.  What are they doing wrong?

    • A far higher rate of Europeans are killed by cancer alone ( and the same is true for diseases as a whole) than Americans because of our vastly superioir medical system. If you really had any any sense of morality or rationality, you would be arguing against going to a more socialist health care system. But you don’t.

    • When confronted, you call those who disagree with you names and ridicule them so as to avoid a clear, rational conversation.

      This is coming from the idiot who called us “scum” for not agreeing with his fear of global warming.

    • More people are killed in car accidents in a month here than are killed by terrorism in a decade


      I’ll make sure Bush gets your thank you letter.

  • How about a 20% recividism rate for elected officials, ie. we throw 80% of them out at each election?

  • Scott Erb: German saboteurs were not going to do anything serious to the USA. Germany was not an existential threat, and we could have contained them. So why did FDR treat the German saboteurs like we do AQ?

  • You went full erb, man. Never go full erb. You don’t buy that? Ask Sean Penn, 2001, “I Am Sam.” Remember? Went full erb, went home empty handed…
    Before you ask, you’re not worth the effort to do anything but mock, Scott.

    • He’s not even worthy of mocking for this one….  Entertaining though, in the same way as an old time staged train wreck.

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