Monday, April 25, 2011

The GUANTANAMO Files: Wikleaks releases over 800 documents on detainees...

In its latest release of classified US documents, WikiLeaks is shining the light of truth on a notorious icon of the Bush administration's "War on Terror" -- the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which opened on January 11, 2002, and remains open under President Obama, despite his promise to close the much-criticized facility within a year of taking office.

In thousands of pages of documents dating from 2002 to 2008 and never seen before by members of the public or the media, the cases of the majority of the prisoners held at Guantánamo -- 758 out of 779 in total -- are described in detail in memoranda from JTF-GTMO, the Joint Task Force at Guantánamo Bay, to US Southern Command in Miami, Florida.

Crucially, the files also contain detailed explanations of the supposed intelligence used to justify the prisoners' detention. For many readers, these will be the most fascinating sections of the documents, as they seem to offer an extraordinary insight into the workings of US intelligence, but although many of the documents appear to promise proof of prisoners' association with al-Qaeda or other terrorist organizations, extreme caution is required.

The documents draw on the testimony of witnesses -- in most cases, the prisoners' fellow prisoners -- whose words are unreliable, either because they were subjected to torture or other forms of coercion (sometimes not in Guantánamo, but in secret prisons run by the CIA), or because they provided false statements to secure better treatment in Guantánamo.