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For weeks, Republicans have questioned the wisdom of closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. President Barack Obama plans to transfer the approximately 230 remaining detainees to other countries or to prisons in the United States.
Responding to the Republicans, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters on June 16, 2009, that it's important to consider Obama's plans in context with the overall number of releases in the past seven years.
"Some 500 detainees were released from Guantanamo during the Bush administration," Hoyer said.
We wondered if he was correct.
Indeed, government documents indicate more than 500 detainees were released or transferred from Guantanamo while George W. Bush was president. A White House executive order issued on the second day of Obama's presidency said, " The federal government has moved more than 500 such detainees from Guantánamo, either by returning them to their home country or by releasing or transferring them to a third country."
That's backed up by a fact sheet from the military task force that runs the detention camp, which says 520 detainees had been released or transferred by March 2009.
Our only quibble with Hoyer is his use of the word "released." That could be interpreted to mean that under Bush, 500-plus detainees left the center and were immediately freed. But the Pentagon says there is a difference between a release and a transfer to another country. The vast majority of detainees leave Gitmo under a transfer, which means they are transported to another country that places them under some type of restrictions. Some are incarcerated in those countries because of criminal charges, while others face monitoring or travel limitations.
But Hoyer only said "released," so we'll take him down a notch to Mostly True.
Joint Task Force Guantanamo, Detainees Fact Sheet , March 23, 2009
Washington Post, Names of the Detained in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba , accessed June 17, 2009
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