With all the attention (rightfully) focused on the Senate hearings about how BushCo. authorized torture of detainees, I wanted to make sure this latest story in McClatchy’s detainee series didn’t get lost:

…[I]nstead of confining terrorists, Guantanamo often produced more of them by rounding up common criminals, conscripts, low-level foot soldiers and men with no allegiance to radical Islam — thus inspiring a deep hatred of the United States in them — and then housing them in cells next to radical Islamists.

In other words, they may not have been radical jihadists when they were taken prisoner, but they sure are now.  Many of them were released and immediately joined al Qaeda or the Taliban, like Mohammed Naim Farouq, a small-time secular thug who became a Taliban leader and made it onto the US Defense Intelligence Agency’s 20 most wanted list for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

So not only is the Bush administration enraging and radicalizing Muslims in Iraq and everywhere else, but it is materially assisting al Qaeda and the Taliban with their recruiting and training.  Brilliant!

I can think of three possible explanations for this travesty:

1) Simple incompetence.  I mean, it wouldn’t be the first time.  The McClatchy story does make it look like oblivious Gitmo wardens just got outmaneuvered, but with this administration it’s often hard to tell whether the incompetence is deliberate or not.

2) Butt-covering.  It’s actually a brilliant strategy to make unlawful indefinite detentions look more palatable by ensuring that all the detainees are dangerous America-hating Islamist radicals rather than a bunch of innocent patsies or garden-variety criminals who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. ("We can’t release them!  Every time we release someone, they join the Taliban or al Qaeda and try to MURDER YOUR FAMILY!!!")

3) Symbiosis.  The Bush administration, and the GOP in general, depend on the radical Islamist boogeyman to win elections and justify all of the executive branch’s anti-Constitutional power grabs.  If they don’t ensure a steady stream of terrorists, they might be forced to relinquish some of their executive powers… or the executive branch.

My money’s on 1, with maybe a little bit of 3.  I just haven’t seen much to convince me that BushCo. is serious about actually fighting terrorism.  Sure, Dubya loves to talk tough and blow shit up, and he’s given his minions the green light to torture and spy on whoever they want, yet al Qaeda and the Taliban are flourishing, and all the so-called "terror plots" the administration has broken up are comical.  The unprecedented powers that Bush obtained through fear of terrorism are doing very little to stop it.

(h/t All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin)