MIAMI — President Trump targeted the wrong president Tuesday when he criticized the Obama administration for releasing “122 vicious prisoners” from the Guantanamo Bay detention center who later resumed militant activities.
The latest report from the office of the director of national intelligence concludes that 122 former detainees re-engaged in fighting, but 113 of them had been released before Obama took office in January 2009. It said an additional 86 detainees are “suspected” of militant activities – again, nearly all freed under President George W. Bush.
Every six months, the DNI is required by law to publish statistics on the number of former prisoners from the U.S. base in Cuba either confirmed or suspected of recidivism, a response to congressional fears about closing the detention center.
Trump said during last year’s campaign that he wants the detention center, often referred to as “Gitmo,” to be kept open. At one point, he pledged to “load it up with some bad dudes.”
On Tuesday, he Tweeted that “122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision!”
The latest DNI report, from September, concludes that 122 detainees re-engaged in fighting but 113 of them had been released before Obama took office in January 2009. It said an additional 86 detainees are “suspected” of militant activities – again, nearly all freed under Bush.
Lawyers and other advocates for prisoners have disputed the description of men “returning” to the battlefield, arguing that at least some may never have been fighting the U.S. in the first place and could have been radicalized at Guantanamo.
As it sought to close the detention center, the Obama administration tried to minimize the recidivism problem through a “rigorous interagency review process” and parole-style hearings. The administration ultimately failed to close the center, though, because it deemed some detainees not releasable and Congress prohibited moving any of them to the U.S. for any reason. Today there are 41 men left.
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