State Department official calls Gitmo prisoners “refugees”

I heard this on the radio yesterday, and had promptly forgotten it until last night when reader Paul sent me this column by Connie Hair at Human Events about the verbal slip-up, or was it a slip-up?

Yesterday State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley referred to Gitmo terrorists as “refugees.” During the daily State Department briefing, the Assistant Secretary of State unveiled the new terminology (Video here at 24:10 minutes):

REPORTER QUESTION: Talk to us a little bit about response and talks and any commitments that you may have gotten from our European and other friends in the international community about taking in Guantanamo detainees as the camp in Guantanamo is expected to close at some point in the near future. Have you gotten any commitments from our European friends and anybody else?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY PHILIP J. CROWLEY: Ambassador Dan Fried continues his efforts to resettle, you know, Guantanamo refugees to various places around the world.

Resettling refugees. Like we resettled the Vietnamese boat people fleeing oppression? Like the Irish emigrating to escape the potato famine? Sure: to Hillary Clinton’s State Department, the terrorists imprisoned at Gitmo are “refugees” to be “resettled.”

A refugee is a person seeking protection from religious persecution or political oppression or seeking safe haven during a war. The Obama administration denies we are even at war. Could they possibly consider these terrorists as victims seeking safety?

Ms. Hair then tells us about some good advice she once received and how it can be a tip-off to one’s real thoughts on any matter.

A dear friend once passed along very sage advice about playing with verbal fire. He told me if you ever speak before the public, never say anything in private that you might regret saying if it were to slip out in public. Because it will come out of your mouth at the most inopportune moment…


When something as substantial as “Gitmo refugee” rolls so easily off of a spokesman’s tongue, you can lay odds that it’s been said before — and often.

You can take it to the bank that the State Department talks about Guantanamo prisoners as “refugees.”  They have from the very beginning.  For the last year we’ve followed the ins and outs of the release of the Chinese Muslim Uighers—ever since they were initially to be “resettled” in Virginia.   I couldn’t find our first mention of the Uighers as “refugees,” but here is a post in which Human Rights Watch mentions “refugee resettlement” for these Gitmo prisoners.

Here is the reason why!   “Refugees” get all sorts of stuff—subsidized housing, food stamps, health care, job counseling, language lessons etc. etc.  Regular immigrants are often barred from stuff for a long time.  I am sure that is the case, not just in the US, but elsewhere in the world (or at least the part of the civilized world where they would be sent).  I am also sure there was no slip-up, the State Department is referring to them as “refugees” for a reason—they will get stuff (goodies, welfare) from whatever country takes them, or maybe stuff paid for by us if they are called “refugees!”  The State Department is hammering that point home—at least to the insiders in the worldwide refugee industry.

Sharp lawyer needed!

Oh, and one final thought.  Because this situation (releasing prisoners captured on the battlefield) has no legal precedent, they are trying to squeeze them into some legally recognized category—refugees.  It is too bad we don’t have some sharp lawyers on our side who could challenge this perversion of the definition of refugees.

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