Like many things these days, it started with a tweet from President Trump: He claimed Tuesday that 122 "vicious prisoners" released from Guantanamo by the Obama administration had returned to the battlefield. All but nine of those had in fact been released under George W. Bush, Politico reports, but White House press secretary Sean Spicer made a fresh error in his attempt to clarify the issue Tuesday. "Just to be clear, there's a big difference: under the Bush administration, most of those were court-ordered," Spicer told reporters, though lawyers and officials say that only three of the 532 detainees transferred out of Guantanamo under Bush were moved because of court orders.
In the original tweet, Trump "meant in totality, the number that had been released on the battlefield—that have been released from Gitmo since individuals have been released," Spicer said, per the Hill. He argued that there had been a "huge contrast" between the Bush and Obama administration's approaches to releasing detainees, though former Obama administration officials called his claims about most Bush-era releases being court-ordered "loony" and "flat-out not true." "The truth is that Sean Spicer doesn't know what he is talking about and doesn't care enough to take the time to find out," former White House counsel Greg Craig tells Politico. (A British detainee freed in 2004 blew himself up in Iraq last month.)