This story first appeared on the ProPublica website.
Yesterday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs made two claims about the administration’s handling of detainees at Guantanamo Bay that overstated its progress in clearing the prison. According to Gibbs, the administration has carried out large-scale transfers and releases of detainees out of the prison. But those claims are incorrect.
In describing efforts to send some detainees home or to third-country hosts, Gibbs told reporters: “More of those transfers have taken place in the past eight months than have taken – than took place in the previous eight years.”
In fact, in the last eight months, 31 detainees have been transferred out of Guantanamo to other countries. In the eight years previous, more than 520 detainees were sent home or to third countries.
In total, 32 detainees have been transferred since Obama was inaugurated. In the last year of the Bush administration, 36 detainees were transferred out of Guantanamo.
We’ve asked the White House for comment and will update when we get it.
Gibbs also claimed that the White House has complied with all court orders to release detainees who won their habeas petitions in US courts in the District of Columbia.
“We have transferred those [detainees] that courts have said shouldn’t be held [at Guantanamo] to either their home country or third-party countries,” Gibbs told reporters at Wednesday’s briefing.
Yet, there are outstanding court orders for the release of 10 detainees at Guantanamo. Seven of the 10 are Chinese Muslims who are ethnic Uighurs. The Uighurs were ordered released in October, 2008. But the government is struggling to find countries to take them. In the meantime, the Uighurs have a case pending in the Supreme Court seeking their release into the United States.