President Donald Trump began his Tuesday by live tweeting statistics from Fox News — and embroidering the media coverage on Fox to spread a falsehood about how which Guantanamo detainees former President Barack Obama released.
While the statistic had appeared on Fox shortly before, the falsehood was Trump’s own extrapolation.
At 6:13 a.m. during a news rundown, Fox News mentioned the death of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Yasir al-Silmi, who was killed in an air strike on Yemen on March 2nd.
“A win in the war on terror, the Trump administration just killed a former Guantanamo Bay detainee released by Barack Obama, Yasir al-Silmi,” the segment went. “He had been released back in 2009 even though the department of defense recommended that he stay behind bars. 122 prisoners released from Gitmo have returned to the battlefield.”
At 7:04 a.m., Trump tweeted the same statistic — and blamed all 122 releases on former President Barack Obama. Notably, Trump parroted Fox News’ “prisoners” language, though the standard government term is “detainees.”
He said that all the “vicious prisoners” were released by Obama, when in fact, Obama only released nine of the prisoners. The other 113 were all released under former President George W. Bush.
122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 7, 2017
Here is a chart containing showing the actual statistics, from a publicly available, unclassified summary that the Director of National Intelligence is required to update at least every six months:
The chart clearly shows that most of those who reengaged after being detained in Guantanamo were released under George W. Bush.
George W. Bush also released more detainees overall, and among those there was a much higher percentage of former detainees that were confirmed as reengaging.
While Trump’s morning tweeting began with the false tweet about Guantanamo, it continued for a few hours and included two tweets directly “@” Fox and Friends, seemingly responding directly to the Fox broadcast.