Media Fudge Numbers on Guantánamo Detainees

For Immediate Release

Media Fudge Numbers on Guantánamo Detainees

WASHINGTON - In recent days many media figures and outlets -- including CNN's
Campbell Brown and Kyra Phillips, MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Fox News' Sean
Hannity, The Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Associated
Press, and ABCNews.com -- have
repeated or failed to challenge the claim that 61 former detainees held at
Guantánamo Bay have returned to the battlefield. Hannity, the Globe, and the Los Angeles Times, in particular,
falsely asserted that the Pentagon has confirmed this figure.

In fact, the Pentagon says it has confirmed that 18 Guantánamo
detainees -- not 61 -- have returned to the fight. During a January 13
press
conference
, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell stated:
"The new numbers are, we believe, 18 confirmed and 43 suspected of
returning to the fight. So 61 in all former Guantanamo detainees are confirmed or suspected
of returning to the fight."

As Media Matters has
repeatedly noted, the
Pentagon's claim to having confirmed that 18 have returned to the fight
has itself been called into question. Indeed,
Seton Hall University School of Law professor Mark Denbeaux has disputed
the Pentagon's figures, asserting:
"Once again, they've failed to identify names, numbers, dates, times,
places, or acts upon which their report relies. Every time they have been
required to identify the parties, the DOD [Department of Defense] has been
forced to retract their false IDs and their numbers."

"It is reckless for members of the media to misrepresent what the
Pentagon said and to compound the misinformation by not reporting that even the
lower Pentagon number that it actually claims to have confirmed has been
questioned." said Karl
Frisch, a Senior Fellow at Media Matters.
He added, "The media should be ashamed for using these numbers without
noting they have been called into question by experts. The American people
deserve an honest assessment of our Guantanamo policy -- on that front they have been failed by the
media."

BACKGROUND:

Media advance falsehood that Pentagon
has confirmed that 61 former Guantánamo detainees have returned to battlefield

http://mediamatters.org/items/200901230002

Summary: Since
President Barack Obama signed an executive order requiring that the Pentagon's
detention facilities at Guantánamo be closed within a year, numerous media
figures and outlets have repeated or failed to challenge the claim that 61
former detainees held there have returned to the battlefield. In fact, the
figure, which comes from the Pentagon, includes 43 former prisoners who are
suspected of, but have not been confirmed as, having "return[ed] to the
fight."

CNN, AP falsely claim that Pentagon
says 61 Guantánamo detainees have returned to terrorism

http://mediamatters.org/items/200901220014

Summary: The
Associated Press falsely stated, "The Pentagon recently reported that 61
former prisoners at Guantanamo have returned to
the fight against the U.S.
and its allies." Similarly, on CNN Newsroom, anchor Kyra Phillips
asserted, "New Pentagon figures actually say 61 released detainees have
been linked to some kind of terror activity." In fact, the Pentagon's
figure includes 43 former prisoners who are suspected of, but not confirmed as,
having, in the AP's words, "returned to the fight."

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