GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba – President Donald Trump broke his White House silence on the topic of Guantanamo on Tuesday, incorrectly blaming President Barack Obama not President George W. Bush for the release of more than 100 captives who U.S. intelligence agencies consider recidivists.
The president’s tweet, just after 7 a.m., correctly referred to an Obama-era report from the Office of the Directorate of National Intelligence as citing 122 former captive as “re-engagers.”
But it failed to note that 113 of the men described by Trump in his tweet as “vicious prisoners” were released by the George W. Bush administration. The report released in September, said nine captives sent to other countries by the Obama administration were confirmed to re-engage, the term for what is colloquially called having gone back to the fight.
The so-called recidivist rate may have interested the new president because of the Pentagon’s disclosure a day earlier that a U.S. airstrike in Yemen had killed a captive repatriated by the Obama administration in December 2009.
Trump’s vow to keep Guantanamo open and add new prisoners was a popular sound bite during his campaign. He had not spoken about the prison since moving to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue; only alleged draft versions of proposed detention policy have leaked.
Congress established the regular reporting mechanism by the intelligence community on what has become of captives released from Guantanamo in 2012.
It breaks down the report between the 532 transferred to other nations’ custody during the Bush administration and those by the Obama administration, which transferred 196. Those release figures don’t include the seven captives who died at Guantanamo and the Tanzanian man serving life in prison after a federal trial in New York.