Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the United States did what he termed "a good thing" in holding five suspected British terrorists for two years at the Guantanamo detention center at a U.S. base in Cuba. But Mr. Rumsfeld also says their release Tuesday was appropriate.

The five detainees were flown back to Britain Tuesday after British authorities promised they would no longer pose a security threat to the United States or its allies.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Mr. Rumsfeld noted there has been one case of a detained terrorist being released who returned to terrorism.

He gave no details but indicated his hope that would not happen with the five Britons who were transferred out of Guantanamo. "You never know for sure in life. But our government made a considered judgment that it was appropriate to transfer these individuals to the government of the United Kingdom," he said.

So far 88 detainees held in Cuba have been freed and 12 others transferred for continued detention elsewhere. Four other British citizens are still being held among the some 650 suspected terrorist prisoners at Guantanamo.