Something funny happened yesterday.

The House Armed Services Committee had a hearing on Gitmo Detainee Transfer Policy. According to Carol Rosenberg’s tweeting, up to two hours of the hearing was conducted in closed session before the hearing opened to the public and the witnesses explained that the interesting details–like the “recidivists” names and the amount paid to other countries to accept detainees–are secret (meaning they presumably got reported in that secret session).

DIA’s Ed Mornston says names of ex-#Guantanamo captives who “re-engaged” after release are secret “to protect sources and methods.”

Rosenberg’s story on the hearing reports that fewer of the detainees released under Obama are “reengaging” than the detainees released under Bush.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that three of the 68 Guantanamo detainees released since Barack Obama became president have engaged in terrorism or insurgency, a senior administration told Congress Wednesday.

[snip]

He declined to say, however, who the men were or where they were sent after Guantanamo. He also wouldn’t say when U.S. intelligence crunched its latest figure.

The rate of so-called return-to-battlefield detainees, however, is far less than what the Defense Intelligence Agency determined it was during the George W. Bush administration. In a report released in December, the DIA reported that 79 of 532 detainees released during the Bush administration had engaged in terrorism or insurgency.

All of which makes me wonder whether the spooks have finally stopped counting detainees whom we’ve recruited as spies to infiltrate al Qaeda as “recidivists.”

While no one ever talks about such things, it is safe to assume the government has been releasing some number of Gitmo detainees with the understanding that they’ll infiltrate (or return to, for the small percentage that actually had ties before Gitmo) al Qaeda and report back to the US on its operations. As Jeff Kaye and Jason Leopold has reported, the US abused detainees in order to get them to spy on others within Gitmo. There were quiet reports that the reason we used torture at Abu Ghraib was to recruit spies. And the example of Jabir al Fayfi, who was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007, underwent the Saudi retraining program, and then “fled” to Yemen, only to return and alert the Saudis of the toner cartridge plot last year, is most easily explained by assuming that Fayfi was a spy, either ours or Saudi Arabia’s.

While no one will ever talk about this, we can be sure that some of the Gitmo detainees who appear to “reengage” are doing so on orders from us.

So how are those former detainees counted? DIA would have a really big incentive to label them “recidivists,” because doing so would be important for their cover. They’re not going to stay alive very long if the US isn’t screaming bloody murder about them returning to the battlefield. But of course, so long as they don’t become double agents (which I would imagine happens a lot, if only because it’s a good way to stay alive for these guys), they aren’t really “recidivists;” rather, they are men who were coerced to become spies and are taking great risks to do so.

Which is why I find yesterday’s hush hush–and today’s lower “recidivism” news–so interesting. By not releasing the names of those who have “reengaged,” DIA presumably makes it easy for these men to sustain their cover. But given the lower numbers, it’s just possible that either we’ve run out of men at Gitmo who agree to spy for us (and so are counting fewer of them as “recidivists”), or we’re simply not counting them fraudulently as “recidivists.”

But consider what else has been going on with these “recidivism” claims: a central reason why we can’t close Gitmo, the fearmongers say, is because people keep “returning” to al Qaeda when we release them.

Well, now the Administration has capitulated on a key Gitmo issue, and voila! The recidivism numbers are lower!

You see why Gitmo is important to the government’s “exploitation” goals, not just for recruiting spies, but also for lying to the American people?