FACT CHECK: ISIS Leader, Baghdadi, Was Released By Bush, Not Obama

In yet another example of journalistic malpractice, the folks at Fox News broadcast a number of reports that got the most significant facts completely wrong. In order to do so, they relied on the assertions of a single, uncorroborated account, and failed to do the most basic follow-up with the people in a position to know.

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The latest lie-riddled reporting on Fox concerned the circumstances of the capture and release of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the leader of the terrorist group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Fox and other conservative media outlets are endeavoring to place the responsibility for Baghdadi’s brutal march through Iraq on President Obama. Representative commentaries include these by Fox hosts Jeanine Pirro and Megyn Kelly:

Pirro: The head of this band of savages is a man by the name of Abu al-Baghdadi. The new Osama Bin Laden. A man released by Obama in 2009, who started ISIS a year later.

Kelly: We are also learning more about the leader of the terror group, a man described as the new Bin Laden, the heir to Bin Laden. It turns out he had been in U.S. custody until 2009, over in Iraq, when he was then turned over to the Iraqi government as part of our troop drawdown. And then he was released.

On Pirro’s Saturday program she led into the subject with a mouth-foaming harangue about Obama’s “feckless” leadership and socialist designs on America. On Kelly’s primetime program she interviewed Col. Kenneth King who claimed to have been present when Baghdadi was transferred from the custody of U.S. forces to the Iraqis, who later allegedly released him to go on to form ISIS. However, an investigation by PolitiFact uncovered a very different story, confirmed by the Defense Department, and branding the Fox report as “false.”

“Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Al Badry, also known as ‘Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’ was held as a ‘civilian internee’ by U.S. Forces-Iraq from early February 2004 until early December 2004, when he was released,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “He was held at Camp Bucca. A Combined Review and Release Board recommended ‘unconditional release’ of this detainee and he was released from U.S. custody shortly thereafter. We have no record of him being held at any other time.”

Since the right-wing is so intent on assigning blame for Baghdadi’s campaign of terror on the president who was in office when he was set free, then according to their logic it is all Bush’s fault. But don’t expect Fox News to report the facts as laid out by actual journalists. They won’t even report the comments of their own witness, Col. King, who appeared on another network (ABC) and admitted that he “could be mistaken.” It turns out that he never knew the name of the man he presumed to be Baghdadi, he just thought there was a resemblance to the man he encountered. Nor will they report Col. King’s remarks to the Daily Beast where he downplayed the threat posed by Baghdadi, saying that “He was a bad dude, but he wasn’t the worst of the worst.”

PolitiFact went on to note that, even if Col. King’s account were correct, and Baghdadi was still in custody in 2009, Obama still could not be held to blame for Baghdadi’s release. The terms of the Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq required the U.S. to turn over all prisoners to the custody of Iraq’s criminal system. That agreement was negotiated and agreed to by the Bush administration in 2008.

Baghdadi and Bush

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So virtually everything reported by Fox News was wrong. And, not surprisingly, all of the misinformation leaned toward blaming President Obama for the mistakes of President Bush. It’a pattern that is all too familiar. Now that the truth has been revealed and confirmed, we can expect Fox to issue a correction at the earliest opportunity. And if you believe that you are probably already a dimwitted, gullible disciple of the Fox Disinformation Society.


44 thoughts on “FACT CHECK: ISIS Leader, Baghdadi, Was Released By Bush, Not Obama

  1. Sooner or later Fox will unveil a picture of President Obama reading ‘My Pet Goat’ to a classroom of children.

    • Yeah. And it will be a really poor photo shop of Obama’s face superimposed over Bush’s, and they will completely forget to do the hands!

  2. What’s even funnier is that these are issues that Fox cares a lot about. They invest a shitload of emotion, time, confidence, asserted importance, and operational pride into these issues that they use as attacks. Now, given that, wouldn’t fucking them up be a big fuckin’ deal? I mean, wouldn’t somebody get fired or at the very least suspended for dropping the ball on a huge political operation like Fox attacking and shitting on the left and the President? They have one purpose of existence: Sway public opinion with propaganda, either through tearing down the left or building up and defending the right. Again, given that, isn’t this a prodigious dumbshit fuck up? This seems like an easy thing to verify and collaborate. You know they’re giddy and energized and upbeat when they find something they can use as an attack, I wonder how knowing they got this so fucking wrong made them feel, after they used it. Not only that, getting this so wrong means that it was a fuck up for the right, as Mark said using their logic. If President Obama would have fucked up not staying in Iraq, if President Obama fucked up by releasing the ISIL leader, wouldn’t the fact that those weren’t his “fuck ups” mean that the right fucked up? Ya know, seeing as how, according to Fox, these were in fact fuck ups, but not actually made by President Obama. Even a victory on an issue that they never stop talking about is a fuck up to them, just because they didn’t have a guy in office when it happened. You know that if they did have a guy in office when something similar happened(and they did, and it happened 13 times), not only would there be no “outrage”, nothing would be a “disgusting and despicable oversight”, it would be just another action by the enemy justifying war and an hardline foreign policy. Nothing would be their fault, nothing would be the result of their failed foreign policy, it would be spun to justify it. Their nuts have to clank when they walk to get this kinda shit wrong and not shut the fuck down and reevaluate everything they’re about. Selective memory, blatantly intentional “errors” to skew the appearance of data, party talking points memos presented as researched fact, using specific issues to attack when the same issues were defended against not just a few years ago, promotion of activist organizations to build political energy, self defeating logic, straw-men, red herrings, and jaw clenched lies. All while keeping the slogan ‘fair and balanced’. All for an agenda of gaining and keeping power. And they make money doing it.

    Fox: The Exemplars of Un-Americanism.

    • Fox is a clear and present danger to American security.

      • and the guy who owns it is not even American

  3. Faux Snooze lies?? In other news, dog bites man.

  4. FOX is as dangerous to American security as any “terrorist” organization.

  5. Don’t all you haters want to know what the two sides of any story are?

    • This is the second side (the factual side) of the story

    • No! I want to know who, what, where, when, why, and how! THAT’S IT. The rest is propaganda designed to manipulate me into acting in a way that I normally wouldn’t, toward an end that isn’t from my own interests. It’s fucking coercion through information manipulation. Journalism has nothing to do with balance, journalism is just reporting what is/has happening/ed. No need for experts and contributors and strategists. Just report the reality of what’s relevant. I don’t give a shit to hear someone’s, ANYONE’S, fucking opinion on any story, I have my own faculties for that.

      Two sides of any story? First off, what makes you think there are two sides? Secondly, why would you want to hear ‘a side’ of a story? JUST GIVE ME THE STORY. You ever see the second Anchorman movie? Slapstick with relevant satire. News isn’t to influence me, it’s to educate me of the world’s goings on in real time. Sides of the story? NO.

      • If that was Dan Rather reporting for Fox, I wonder if they would do what they did to him when he reported with false info on Bush. Doubtful.

        • Are you CRAZY? You picked the WRONG paradigm of “liberal” journalism to bring up, sir. Rather was UNIVERSALLY scorned and ridiculed for the Killian documents story he did on 60 Minutes. In fact, it cost him his JOB! See, that’s the difference between Fox and EVERYONE ELSE: REAL news organizations hold people RESPONSIBLE for screwing up! If Fox did that, there wouldn’t BE a Fox News!

    • Helen,

      With all due respect, in a case like this – there is no second side.

      FACT: The terrorist now known as the head of ISIL, by the name of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was taken into custody and held for a period of time during President Bush’s term in office – then released STILL during President Bush’s term in office. Years later he becomes the head of a terrorist organization that sets out to capture an area of the middle east (which we are responsible for destabilizing under false pretenses, but that’s an entirely different issue) In no way did his tenure as a prisoner of the US overlap the presidency of the present incumbent – President Barack Obama.

      For a major news network to then come out and not only accuse said incumbent of being responsible, but for them to CHANGE THE FACTUAL DATE OF RELEASE is not reporting the news, its not a side of anything. It is, charitably, a lie. Less charitably but probably more accurately, its propaganda – just like propaganda used by PRAVDA in the old days and by other agencies in other dictatorships prior to PRAVDA.

      So, exactly why do you think there is a second side here?



      • I can’t believe the viewers of Fox News can be so naive to continue to watch this garbage and swear they are telling the truth.

      • wow do you people even do research on your own? The guy was captured in Iraq in 2005. So how the hell could he be released in 2004? and you guys are calling the rights dumb. You don’t even look up facts…

        You guys just feed the shit the news says to you right in your mouths and then act like your breath doesn’t stink…

        And the worst part is…. I didnt even have to dig deep to find this information. Took me less than 10 mins.

        And I could care less if the DoD says “nope its 2004 not 2009” ya the gov’t doesn’t lie to us at all huh?

        I saw multiple creditable sites, saying Bakr was released in 2009, and was captured in 2005. So please lets do some simple thinking and math here.

        does 2005 come before 2004? The correct answer is “No”

        Therefore, Bakr couldnt of been released in 2004, because it is physically impossible to release someone that hasn’t been captured yet.

        This is why America is going to shit. Because people believe whatever the hell people tell them to believe and no one has the sense to do a little research and realize, they are being lied to.

        Wake the hell up! I didn’t fight for this country to watch it get ripped apart by mindless sheep. Use your brains and get off the reality TV Shows and learn something…

        • I saw multiple creditable sites, saying Bakr was released in 2009, and was captured in 2005.

          Can you please list thse sites? I was unable to find anything that I would call creditable. Plus, why would you assume the DoD is lying? They have very little to gain by deception in this matter.

        • James, thanks for the laugh. Surely you do not expect anyone to take you seriously when you post about “doing research on your own” and then tell us that you Googled some “credible” sites on the Internet (that you decline to identify) as your proof that WE are “mindless sheep.” That’s hilarious.

          Plus you dismiss evidence provided by the non-partisan PolitiFact that is sourced to the DoD and ignore the fact that, even if Baghdadi was released in 2009, it was still the Bush admin that ordered it. That’s another example of why your rant is such a great parody of the dimwitted wingnuts and Teabaggers that are screwing up America. Nice work.

          • Oops. There’s that pusuit of the whole truth thingy again.




        • That may well be – kindly provide such credible sites and more importantly news articles as you have. NO ONE does their own research to any degree. Original research in ANY field is very rare. Everyone goes to sources, including you — I just happen to think fact-checking sources are more accurate than propaganda ones. So please, if you are going to try, rather sadly, to insult me, provide some proof, otherwise you succeed only in sounding like a puff of hot air.


    • Yes, there’s the truth and the there is FOX LIES!

    • Uh…in case you didn’t notice—or READ!—this whole story is about the two sides; however, we’re not talking about an opinion piece, where there may even be more than two sides, or a predictive piece, like where the economy is headed or what the stock market will do in the future. In this story, there is a truth: Baghdadi was released under the Bush administration; and there is an untruth: Baghdadi was released under the Obama administration. There is no other side, and one of the two sides IS WRONG. Fox has the resources, the personnel, the training (?), and, as a NEWS ORGANIZATION, the responsibility and obligation to CHECK THE FACTS! Once again, they didn’t; once again, they were wrong; and once again, they got caught. The question now is, Will they do what every other legitimate news source does in a situation like this and ADMIT ERROR and make a retraction? Or will they simply ONCE AGAIN ignore it?

  6. These assholes never fact check before they spew out the garbage.

  7. This article does not vindicate either president. It dies not vindicate the Anerican people. We cannot expect the jailed to love the jailer. We cannot expect the displaced to admire the displacer. We cannot expect the native to worship the intruder.
    The U S just doesn’t get it.

  8. It’s been long enough now that Conservatives can slowly and surely re-embrace W(orst POTUS Ever) and his war of lies. The Chicken hawks Conservatives have been champing at the bit to Declare themselves huge tough warriors who stay at home.

    And how do they do this why they Blame Barack for all the despicable evil shit they pulled…

  9. Sure, it’s Bush’s fault that Commander Feckless, Barack, didn’t renew the Staus of Forces agreement. Yeah, those agreement typically do run through infinity and don’t require renewal. LOL Sure! “US Army Col. Kenneth King, the commander of Camp Bucca at the time of al-Baghdadi’s detention, verified his containment and release in 2009, and revealed that al-Baghdadi’s departing words were: “I’ll see you guys in New York.””

    Barack’s Disaster A Day Presidency; Forward, indeed! https://twitter.com/ObamaRecord1

    Did you hear? Barack ended the Iraq war!

    • So much wrong. First of all, Col. King did NOT “verify” anything. In fact, he admitted that he could not be certain if the man he spoke to was Baghdadi, just that they looked similar.

      And it was Bush who negotiated the Status of Forces agreement and the withdrawal of U.S. forces. Please watch something other than Fox News for a change.

      • And the feckless Obama had nearly three years to renew the agreement. Nice work, Barack! How has it worked out for the USA? No one other than Obama and his cast of appointed misfits thought it was a good idea to remove all troops. And Obama thought he had ended the war: http://goo.gl/chbL2D #PromiseKept #Clown

  10. It’s funny how people will mock Pres. Obama for ” blaming everything on Bush”, but they don’t seem to have a problem blaming Obama for not cleaning up Bush’s train wreck to their satisfaction! I would imagine that if Obama, et.al., could have looked through the maigical mirror of the future and seen the problems Baghdadi would cause, they wou,d nothave abided by the status forces agreement. Then again, if the Bush administration had had the same access to said magical mirror,they wouldn’t have made the agreement in the first place…or would they?

    You are wrong, sir. Plenty of people wanted all the troops removed. I would imagine plenty of the troops themselves and their families feel quite great about it! The fact of the matter is, we were left with a Hobson’s choice: stay on— political, economic, emotional, medical disaster, etc., here at home; leave— disaster there. Well, we made a choice. It can be argued until the stars burn out whether it was the right thing to do, or even if there WAS a “right” thing to do. It’s done. Perhaps it’s time for us to just stay out of the Iraqis’ business for once and let all the factions just duke it out, like the Gauls or the Franks or the Huns, and whoever comes out on top, that’s who we deal with—or ignore. Not our business. Tough shit.

    • Really? You think there’s debate on whether it was the right thing to do to remove all troops? You’re too damn stupid to be allowed on a keyboard. Yeah, really tough call on whether or not it was the right thing to do. http://goo.gl/chbL2D If an idiot of Obama’s ilk had been president in ’53, there would only be a North Korea.

  11. Tell ya what. Since your esp is so strong and accurate, tell us what the end game is going to be in the Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and let’s just throw in Myanmar for fun. and if you’re right ,we will bow down and acknowledge you as the unassailable expert on all things geo-political, okay? Until then, it is only abject arrogance of the most ridiculous kind to claim to know what the outcome would have been with ANY choice post-Bush f-ck up. Your “Dream Team” of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, et.al., got it DEAD WRONG. ON EVERYTHING. PERIOD. GOT IT? WRONG WRONG WRONG. How can you not see that? And if THEY got it so deadly and disastrously wrong in every conceivable way, how dare you claim 20/20 hind-sight on what was a total crap shoot?

    And by the way, Obama DID essentially end the war in Iraq. He did what he campaigned on and got elected for. He got us out of a cesspool we never should have been in anyway. The CIVIL WAR that started AFTER was a completely different affair. It was a NEW THING. Innevitable, perhaps, considering the FUBAR situation Obama inherited, but not our doing. Perhaps, sir, perhaps, if we had stayed in Iraq, doves would have descended from the heavens and all the warring factions THAT HAVE HATED EACH OTHER FOR CENTURIES would have just stopped, laid down their arms and embraced each other in a kumbaya epiphany of harmony, peace, and love. More likely, however, Mr.
    Rocker, we would have had to commit indefinitely, and sometime in the future we would have surpassed the number of dead in Korea or Vietnam and you hubristic couch generals would be still be calling for Obama’s head, or Hillary’s or whomever the next president is –unless of course, it turned out to be a Republican, then you’d be behind him all the way! You choke on a gnat but swallow a camel whole. Respond or don’t respond, I’m done with you.

  12. Yeah, you’re done and Barack is done. Another 2010-like shellacking is coming in November.

    Don’t confuse good common sense with ESP. Too bad you libs can’t even recognize good sense when it slaps you in the face, let alone display any of your own. Here is a Mitt Romney quote from November 11, 2011:

    “It is my view that the withdrawal of all of our troops from Iraq by the end of this year is an enormous mistake, and failing by the Obama administration. The precipitous withdrawal is unfortunate — it’s more than unfortunate, I think it’s tragic. It puts at risk many of the victories that were hard won by the men and women who served there.”

    There it is, good common sense from Mitt Romney. Obama and his cast of idiots thought it was a good move.

    Joe Biden: “I am very optimistic about Iraq. I think it’s gonna be one of the great achievements of this administration.

    Barack can’t handle children stampeding the border. Hell, he was looking for drivers and escorts in January. Good work, Barack! Escorts for illegals . . . exactly what the USA needs. What chance did this feckless moron have for a stable Middle East? He wasn’t qualified to manage a Starbucks when he took office, and still isn’t. He took victory laps taking credit for ending the Iraq War, and now that it has blown up in his face, his media lap dogs are on board with “Bush did it.” 77 Senators voted for the Iraq War and two thirds of the House. 100% of the world’s intelligence indicated WMD. That’s how we got into Iraq.

    • Yet, back then Republican voters and tea partiers were debating and trolling liberal FB pages and websites going on and on how ‘ Obama didn’t bring the troops home, Bush set it up before Obama took over.’.. Now the table turns. So hilarious, yet not…

    • John Rocker, I am so glad to see that there’s at least one more intelligent person visiting this site. Thanks for fighting the good fight, although I think your effort is wasted. “News corpse” indeed – this site is overrun by the brain dead.

      • We are to the point where liberals think that good common sense is ESP. That’s how foreign it is to them. After turning a blind eye for years, Barack has finally figure out . . . http://tinyurl.com/lybl2d5

        • Common Sense has been replaced by Common Core, and being Factually Correct has been replaced with being Politically Correct. I’m shaking-my-head astonished that in 2014 there are any Americans who will honestly defend what this President has done. It’s sad and pathetic that they are so invested in the bad decisions they made that they are willing to flush this country down the toilet rather than admit they were wrong. I believe you said in an earlier comment that you fought for our country. Thank you for fighting for us, even for the dimwits.

  13. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Bakr_al-Baghdadi

    Here is the best, most well-researched article I have found on this subject yet. It sites the Dept. of Defense records saying Baghdadi was at Camp Bucca from 05 to 09 and there is no other record of him being detained by the US. I think the clear memory of Baghdadi’s departing words back in ’09 are also pretty convincing. It also says that a ‘review board’ that was put together at that time, not years earlier, recommended his ‘unconditional release.’
    But what can you expect from a mind-set that still blames Bush for hurricane Katrina and says HAMAS is a humanitarian organization? I also think the recent trade of 5 top terrorist officers for one military deserter shows a clear pattern.
    I also thought the article above was pretty good until the name-calling at the very end. Showing some true colors there. Once you resort to that and profanity?….you have lost the battle. There is no place for any of that in a report of ‘just the facts.’
    But rather than pointing fingers, why don’t we get busy obliterating ISIS before they be-head anymore children in Mosul for having Christian parents? And yes, that is really happening and you can find it all over the internet. CNN and FOX are the only news organizations that have stated that fact. Look it up, but I warn you, the pictures are very graphic and hard to take.

    • So “the best, most well-researched article” you found was Wikipedia? Really? And that, in your mind, trumps “an investigation by PolitiFact” that was “confirmed by the Defense Department?” OK.

      • as were the facts in the Wikipedia article confirmed by the dept. of defense. So who do you believe? I am not going to say Wikipedia is a mecca of truth by any means. I am just saying that the facts in the article appeared to be unbiased, well researched, and actually very well referenced. PolitiFact is extremely biased and the name calling reduces credibility as far as I am concerned; there is my personal bias. Do with it what you want. Did you read the article on Wikipedia or just dismiss it as hogwash because it doesn’t say what you want it to?
        The reason I didn’t use any of the other articles saying it was Obama’s fault is because they are also politically biased and you would have every reason to discount them. But there are plenty of them. I honestly don’t care whose fault it is, I care about stopping this guy from be-heading small children and putting their heads on poles.

  14. tlb@ws: Not surprisingly, someone has gone in to the Wikipedia article and updated it to reflect a 2004 release, with mention that some news reports state 2009. Article last updated: August 10, 2014 — the day AFTER your post.

  15. Mark NC, Politifact should be renamed Politopinion because it’s ratings are editorialized and they have lost all credibility in recent years. Politifact is about as Fair and Balanced as liberals believe Fox News to be. No one references their findings anymore except for liberals, and that tells you all you need to know about their bias.

    • “No one references their findings anymore except for liberals” ???

      No except for liberals and Fox News.

      You clearly don’t know what you’re talking about. PolitiFact, like most sites that do fact-checking, makes enemies on all sides, including Rachel Maddow who has blistered them several times on the air. And as for Wikipedia, while I agree with the new update it illustrates why their user-edited model has to be taken with a grain of salt. You always need to check the source.

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