A recent tweet by Donald Trump says:

122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision!

According to a Business Insider article, the president was probably inspired by this Fox News report. However, that report does not say that the prisoners were released under Obama.

Did 122 Guantanamo prisoners released under the Obama administration go on to return to fight against the USA?

  • 7
    If those 122 souls had nothing against the US before being arrested, they sure do now. I'm surprised it's only 122, so not even 20% of the total (and the number is probably highly inflated).
    – user32346
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 18:45
  • 4
    Since these people have never gone to court, how can anyone claim they returned to the battlefield?
    – gnasher729
    Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 18:28

2 Answers 2


Snopes checked these numbers, using a report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence:

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The majority of prisoners were released under Bush. Only a small percentage of those released under Obama returned to the battlefield (9 are confirmed, and another 11 are suspected).

The new 2017 version of the report has also been released this month, and it corrects the number of confirmed re-engagements under Obama from 9 to 8. The original source of the wrong 122 claim is the report from 2016 though.


Fact checker Politifact rates this as Mostly False, rather than Pants on Fire.

Donald Trump wrongly blames Barack Obama for former Guantanamo detainees returning to terrorism

Trump’s claim that the Obama administration released 122 prisoners from Guantanamo that "returned to the battlefield" is right on the numbers but wrong on who is to blame. The vast majority of detainees who fall into Trump’s total were actually released during the administration of President George W. Bush.

  • 27
    Mind, politifact has very high (or is that low?) standards for a Pants On Fire rating -- not only does the statement have to be 100% false or close to it, there needs to be certainty beyond reasonable doubt that the person who made the statement knew it was false at the time, and still deliberately went ahead and said it. Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 18:18
  • 6
    @ Shadur - that makes sense, surely. The phrase isn't "ignorant, ignorant, pants on fire". In order to be a lie, there needs to be a deliberate misrepresentation of the truth.
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 0:30
  • 4
    It's also worth noting that there is a very similar claim that is true. 122 people released from Guantanamo have returned to combat. That's how Politifact argues that it is only Mostly False and not False. That's the kernel of truth. It's not Pants on Fire because they have no proof that he knows that Obama is only responsible for 9 or 20 of the 122. He may only have the headline statistic and not realize that more prisoners were released under Bush than Obama.
    – Brythan
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 2:08
  • 1
    They rated the claim only "Mostly False" because the claim had some modicum of truth - 122 released detainees were known to have engaged in terrorist activity
    – moonman239
    Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 1:23

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