President Donald Trump has blasted former President Barack Obama for the recidivism of released detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison, asserting that 122 former prisoners released by his predecessor had returned to combat roles. This figure is incorrect.
On Mar. 7, Trump took to social media to criticize the Obama administration for the 122 former Guantanamo Bay detainees who had resumed militant activity since their release.
"122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield," Trump tweeted out. "Just another terrible decision!"
The implication that the Obama administration was responsible for the release of all of these prisoners is incorrect. Data disclosed by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence found that 113 of the 122 former detainees who had returned to militant activity had been released during former President George W. Bush's tenure, The Hill reports.
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Obama had pledged to shut down Guantanamo since his 2008 campaign. While his administration had reduced the prison population from 242 detainees in 2009 to only 41 by the time he left office, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checker PolitiFact rates his campaign pledge to shutter the facility a broken promise.
Trump's tweet had been precipitated by a tweet from Fox News' "Fox & Friends." The social media message had reported that former Guantanamo detainee Mohammed Tahar had been killed in Yemen after a U.S. airstrike.
"Former Gitmo detainee killed by a U.S. airstrike in Yemen; at least 122 former Gitmo detainees have re-engaged in terrorism," the Fox News tweet read, followed by Trump's own tweet a half hour later.
On Mar. 4, Trump had accused Obama of ordering a wiretap against his campaign during the 2016 presidential race. The White House has yet to produce evidence to substantiate the accusation.
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"Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory... This is McCarthyism!" Trump tweeted out.
The Trump administration has not cited any evidence that the Obama administration had ordered surveillance of the Trump campaign. The White House cited news reports as the information that Trump was basing his accusation on. Conservative radio host Mark Levin had possibly originated the assertion by stating on his show that the Obama administration committed surveillance against Trump in order to commit a "silent coup."
Levin's comments had been reported on by Breitbart News, which was then circulated among White House sources shortly before Trump issued his tweet, sources familiar with the situation told CNN.
On Mar. 5, White House press secretary Sean Spicer stated that "neither the White House nor the President will comment further until such oversight is conducted."
Trump's accusations against Obama buck the precedent set by other modern U.S. presidents, who had typically ignored their predecessors to place the public's focus on their own agenda.
"Trump is on new ground in going after Obama," presidential biographer Robert Dallek told The New York Times. "He is either ignorant of recent presidential history or simply doesn't care."
Former Republican Rep. Newt Gingrich of Georgia, a Trump ally, countered that the current president is facing an unprecedented number of leaks within his administration, with White House staffers suspecting that the disclosures are coming from holdovers of the Obama administration.
"They have a much bigger assault against them than people have had in the past," Gingrich said.