"In the end, the Pentagon has given out the names of only 12 former detainees who can be independently confirmed to have taken part in terrorist acts directed at American targets, and eight others suspected of such acts. This is about 4 percent of the 534 men who have been released. ...
"It seems fair to say that the much-hyped 14 percent figure is likely a large overstatement of former Guantánamo inmates who have taken up arms."
It also would seem fair to say that the Pentagon doesn't know if even the 4 percent had "returned" to militant activities or had been radicalized by their long incarcerations and harsh treatment at Guantanamo.
Nevertheless, the one-in-seven figure highlighted in the original New York Times article and cited by former Vice President Dick Cheney in his May 21 speech defending the Bush administration's "war on terror" fed the panic of many Americans about accepting even cleared detainees like the Uighurs.
One of the fictions of this "scaredy-cat nation" is the myth of perfect security, essentially a willingness to trade the principles of liberty upon which the United States was founded for some promise of safety.
This point has been at the heart of Cheney's "no half-measures" approach to the terrorist threat, what has been called his "one-percent doctrine" of treating even a one-percent risk from terrorism as a certainty.
But the logical flaw to this doctrine is that reacting to unlikely dangers as certainties almost guarantees more dangers, not fewer.
For instance, invading Iraq to eliminate a tiny risk that Saddam Hussein might help al-Qaeda has killed 4,300 American soldiers, spared al-Qaeda's leadership in their hideouts along the Afghan border, strengthened Iran as a regional power, and spread anti-Americanism across the volatile region, including inside nuclear-armed Pakistan.
In other words, reacting to every hypothetical one-percent threat may sound reassuring to frightened Americans but the policy is almost certain to make the situation worse.
Another emerging risk from the furor about admitting Guantanamo detainees is that President Obama is made to look weak at just the moment he must face down foreign leaders over the need to change their policies in ways that may enhance U.S. security.
For instance, if leaders in Iran or North Korea see evidence that Obama can be pushed around on national security matters back home, it could influence their behavior in resisting U.S. demands about their nuclear programs.
Similarly, an allied nation like Israel, whose leaders don't want to make the concessions that Obama deems crucial for reducing Middle East tensions, will be inclined to drag its feet. Other allies will throw up their hands at Obama's request that they help resettle freed Guantanamo prisoners, possibly forcing the President to recant on his promise to close that controversial facility.
In short, the desire for perfect security, as reflected in the panic over bringing some Guantanamo inmates into the United States, not only would mean the sacrifice of America's founding principles but might well make the American people less secure.
Often the safest move is to accept some risk and to act bravely.