AP disputes Reid on Guantánamo "terrorists" but let GOP falsehoods slide
Research ››› ››› DIANNA PARKER
The AP quoted Harry Reid saying, "We will never allow terrorists to be released into the United States," and then reported: "No one, of course, was talking about releasing terrorism suspects among the American populace." However, the AP has repeatedly reported claims from Republicans without noting the falsehood.
In a May 20 Associated Press article, reporter Laurie Kellman wrote that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), at a May 19 press conference, "mangled his party's position on the congressional news of the day, that Senate Democrats would join their House counterparts in withholding the money President Barack Obama needs to close the Guantanamo Bay prison until Obama comes up with a plan for relocating its prisoners." Kellman quoted Reid saying, "We will never allow terrorists to be released into the United States," and then reported: "No one, of course, was talking about releasing terrorism suspects among the American populace. Imprisoning them, perhaps, but not releasing them." However, Republicans in Congress have repeatedly claimed that closing Guantánamo will result in "terrorists" being released into the U.S.; in reporting their claims, the AP has not commented that "[n]o one, of course, was talking about releasing terrorism suspects among the American populace."
The Obama administration has consistently maintained that suspected terrorists will not be released into the United States. For example, at a January 27 hearing before the House Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Robert Gates responded to a comment by Rep. John McHugh (R-NY) about the administration's detainee policy by saying, "I can't imagine a situation in which detainees at Guantanamo who were considered a danger to the people of the United States would simply be released here." Similarly, during a May 7 Senate hearing, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) asked Attorney General Eric Holder: "Do you have the authority under the law to do this, to bring terrorists into this country and bring them into the community?" Holder responded, "[W]ith regard to those who you would describe as terrorists, we would not bring them into this country and release them, anybody who we consider to be a terrorist, as I think you're using the word."
A May 7 AP article on the hearing reported: "The Obama administration will not release terrorists from Guantanamo Bay into neighborhoods in the United States, Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress on Thursday as he sought to reassure worried lawmakers." Nonetheless, two days later, the AP uncritically quoted Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) as saying, "The American people have a right to know exactly what the White House plans to do with these terrorists. ... Americans don't want these terrorists in their neighborhood." The article continued: "Bond, in his radio address, said the president 'has no plan for what to do with these killers' and that the administration has suggested some of them may come into the United States." The May 9 AP article gave no indication that, in Kellman's words, "No one, of course, was talking about releasing terrorism suspects among the American populace."
Other instances in which the AP uncritically reported Republicans' suggestions that the Obama administration might release terrorists into the United States include:
- A May 5 article reported: "Referring to the potential release of detainees now at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, which Obama has pledged to close within a year, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., asked recently: 'Will these trained terrorists be allowed to travel freely anywhere in the United States? What will their status be? Will they be allowed to stay here permanently?' "
- A May 4 article reported: "Top Republicans such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky have suggested that holding terror detainees in the United States would represent a security threat." The article quoted McConnell as saying, "The American people want to keep the terrorists at Guantanamo out of their neighborhoods and off of the battlefield."
- An April 30 article reported: "Congressional Republicans -- already critical of Obama's move to close the detention center -- criticized Holder for announcing Guantanamo decisions to European audiences rather than in the U.S." The article quoted Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) as saying, "Releasing terrorists endangers American lives both here and abroad."
- An April 27 article reported: "Republicans in Congress say Guantanamo should remain in operation and are mobilizing to fight the release of any detainees into the United States."