Last year, the Pentagon released secret statistics showing that at least 20% of released Guantanamo detainees returned to terrorism. The high recidivism rate is often cited as a reason to stop the releases, which of course justifies the continued operation of Guantanamo prison. Full-speed ahead, then -- contrary to President Obama's campaign pledge.
Maybe, there's a better way ...
Recently, a contractor, a neurosurgeon, and I brainstormed the Guantanamo problem. We came to this conclusion: the return to terrorism by released detainees constitutes not a colossal failure but potentially an unparalleled, golden opportunity for U.S. counter terrorism.
In Jujitsu, a weakness is transformed into a strength. Guantanamo's resounding failure as a correctional facility can become a game-changing asset. Here's how:
You probably know about the ankle bracelet worn by convicted, non-violent felons. It alleviates penitentiary overcrowding and skyrocketing costs by replacing prison detention with house arrest.
The bracelet continuously transmits location data; its wearer literally cannot leave home without it.
For obvious reasons, bracelets are not practical for released Guantanamo detainees. No regrets -- an even better solution may be just around the corner.
Consider the minuscule Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) electronic chip. Your cat or dog may have one. Soon, a RFID chip will be embedded in almost everything, giving it a unique identifying code. The chip consists of a circuit for storing and processing data, and an antenna for receiving and sending information. In 2004, it was approved for human implantation.
Pioneers always create controversy; the RFID chip is no exception. Relax: what I am writing about does not exist yet -- the Second Generation RFID chip, more powerful and versatile, able to leap tall buildings with a single bound. At least, I think it does not exist ...
If a Second Generation RFID were implanted in each Guantanamo detainee before his release, not only would his exact location always be known, but also everything he said and heard would be transmitted. Who knows what else? And, by sending signals to the chip, you could knock out al-Qaeda's telephones, freeze their computers, prematurely blow up their bombs, stop their cars. Maybe control their TVs, burn their dinner.
Implanting the chip in a detainee without his knowledge would not be difficult. A surgical procedure as ordinary as removing an impacted wisdom tooth would suffice as a reason to fully anesthetize him.
However, unless the Second Generation RFID chip was stealthy and able to hide from x-rays and electronic bug detectors, the detainee sooner or later would discover it. Once back home, he could simply call a doctor and remove the chip.
Or could he?
RFID chips can be implanted in places where they cannot be taken out, e.g., inserted with a liver biopsy needle in the middle of the liver.
In the intriguing world of terrorist networking, the Second Generation RFID chip would have intriguing repercussions. If a released detainee discovered he had a chip and couldn't remove it, he would face a singular dilemma. If he kept quiet about the chip, he would knowingly betray those around him. But if he were honest and openly acknowledged it, he would become a pariah. Fellow terrorists would not be the only people to shun him. Can you imagine a woman wanting to marry somebody whose most intimate actions and pillow talk were being transmitted to Virginia?
I'm no electronics expert, but I doubt the Second Generation RFID chip exists. If it did, the Pentagon, CIA, FBI, and Homeland Security would welcome, not fear, the release of each Guantanamo detainee. All the better to hear you with.