Files released so far...
765 / 779
The Guantanamo Files
WikiLeaks and the Guantánamo PrisonersReleased from 2002 to 2004 (Part Four of Ten)
WikiLeaks and the Guantánamo PrisonersReleased from 2002 to 2004 (Part Three of Ten)
WikiLeaks and the Guantánamo PrisonersReleased from 2002 to 2004 (Part Two of Ten)
WikiLeaks and the Guantánamo PrisonersReleased from 2002 to 2004 (Part One of Ten)
The Unknown Prisoners of Guantánamo (PartFive of Five)
The Unknown Prisoners of Guantánamo (PartFour)
WikiLeaks and the 22 Children of Guantánamo
Abandoned in Guantánamo: WikiLeaks Revealsthe Yemenis Cleared for Release for Up to Seven Years
The Unknown Prisoners of Guantanamo (PartThree)
The Unknown Prisoners of Guantanamo (PartTwo)
The Unknown Prisoners of Guantanamo (PartOne)
The 14 Missing Guantánamo files
Cover Story Assessment
JTF-GTMO Threat Matrix
Saudi Arabia (134/135)
Saudi Arabia/Palestine/Israel (1/1)
United Arab Emirates (2/2)
United Kingdom (9/9)
The Washington Post
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WikiLeaks Reveals Secret Files on AllGuantánamo Prisoners
[fr]Wikileakes révèle les dossiers secrets de tous les prisonniers de Guantánamo
[es] Wikileaks saca a luz expedientessecretos de todos los prisioneros en Guantánamo
[ru] Викиликс раскрывает секретные делавсех узников Гуантанамо
[sv] Wikileaks avslöjar hemliga dokument omalla fångar i Guantanamo Bay
In its latest release of classified USdocuments, WikiLeaks is shining the light of truth on a notorious icon of theBush 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 oftaking office.
In thousands of pages of documents datingfrom 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 — 765 out of 779in total — are described in detail in memoranda from JTF-GTMO, the Joint TaskForce at Guantánamo Bay, to US Southern Command in Miami, Florida.
These memoranda, known as DetaineeAssessment Briefs (DABs), contain JTF-GTMO’s recommendations about whether theprisoners in question should continue to be held, or should be released(transferred to their home governments, or to other governments). They consistof a wealth of important and previously undisclosed information, includinghealth assessments, for example, and, in the cases of the majority of the 172prisoners who are still held, photos (mostly for the first time ever).
They also include information on the first201 prisoners released from the prison, between 2002 and 2004, which, unlikeinformation on the rest of the prisoners (summaries of evidence and tribunaltranscripts, released as the result of a lawsuit filed by media groups in 2006),has never been made public before. Most of these documents reveal accounts ofincompetence familiar to those who have studied Guantánamo closely, withinnocent men detained by mistake (or because the US was offering substantialbounties to its allies for al-Qaeda or Taliban suspects), and numerousinsignificant Taliban conscripts from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Beyond these previously unknown cases, thedocuments also reveal stories of the 399 other prisoners released fromSeptember 2004 to the present day, and of the seven men who have died at theprison.
The memos are signed by the commander ofGuantánamo at the time, and describe whether the prisoners in question areregarded as low, medium or high risk. Although they were obviously not conclusivein and of themselves, as final decisions about the disposition of prisonerswere taken at a higher level, they represent not only the opinions of JTF-GTMO,but also the Criminal Investigation Task Force, created by the Department ofDefense to conduct interrogations in the "War on Terror," and theBSCTs, the behavioral science teams consisting of psychologists who had a majorsay in the "exploitation" of prisoners in interrogation.
Crucially, the files also contain detailedexplanations of the supposed intelligence used to justify the prisoners’detention. For many readers, these will be the most fascinating sections of thedocuments, as they seem to offer an extraordinary insight into the workings ofUS intelligence, but although many of the documents appear to promise proof ofprisoners’ association with al-Qaeda or other terrorist organizations, extremecaution is required.
The documents draw on the testimony ofwitnesses — in most cases, the prisoners’ fellow prisoners — whose words areunreliable, either because they were subjected to torture or other forms ofcoercion (sometimes not in Guantánamo, but in secret prisons run by the CIA),or because they provided false statements to secure better treatment inGuantánamo.
Regular appearances throughout thesedocuments by witnesses whose words should be regarded as untrustworthy includethe following "high-value detainees" or "ghost prisoners".Please note that "ISN" and the numbers in brackets following theprisoners’ names refer to the short "Internment Serial Numbers" bywhich the prisoners are or were identified in US custody:
Abu Zubaydah (ISN 10016), the supposed"high-value detainee" seized in Pakistan in March 2002, who spentfour and a half years in secret CIA prisons, including facilities in Thailandand Poland. Subjected to waterboarding, a form of controlled drowning, on 83occasions in CIA custody August 2002, Abu Zubaydah was moved to Guantánamo with13 other "high-value detainees" in September 2006.
Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi (ISN 212), the emirof a military training camp for which Abu Zubaydah was the gatekeeper, who,despite having his camp closed by the Taliban in 2000, because he refused toallow it to be taken over by al-Qaeda, is described in these documents as Osamabin Laden’s military commander in Tora Bora. Soon after his capture in December2001, al-Libi was rendered by the CIA to Egypt, where, under torture, hefalsely confessed that al-Qaeda operatives had been meeting with Saddam Husseinto discuss obtaining chemical and biological weapons. Al-Libi recanted thisparticular lie, but it was nevertheless used by the Bush administration tojustify the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Al-Libi was never sent toGuantánamo, although at some point, probably in 2006, the CIA sent him back toLibya, where he was imprisoned, and where he died, allegedly by committingsuicide, in May 2009.
Sharqawi Abdu Ali al-Hajj (ISN 1457), aYemeni, also known as Riyadh the Facilitator, who was seized in a house raid inPakistan in February 2002, and is described as "an al-Qaedafacilitator." After his capture, he was transferred to a torture prison inJordan run on behalf of the CIA, where he was held for nearly two years, andwas then held for six months in US facilities in Afghanistan. He was flown toGuantánamo in September 2004.
Sanad Yislam al-Kazimi (ISN 1453), aYemeni, who was seized in the UAE in January 2003, and then held in threesecret prisons, including the "Dark Prison" near Kabul and a secretfacility within the US prison at Bagram airbase. In February 2010, in theDistrict Court in Washington D.C., Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. granted thehabeas corpus petition of a Yemeni prisoner, Uthman Abdul Rahim MohammedUthman, largely because he refused to accept testimony produced by either Sharqawial-Hajj or Sanad al-Kazimi. As he stated, "The Court will not rely on thestatements of Hajj or Kazimi because there is unrebutted evidence in the recordthat, at the time of the interrogations at which they made the statements, bothmen had recently been tortured."
Others include Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani (ISN10012) and Walid bin Attash (ISN 10014), two more of the "high-valuedetainees" transferred into Guantánamo in September 2006, after being heldin secret CIA prisons.
Other unreliable witnesses, held atGuantánamo throughout their detention, include:
Yasim Basardah (ISN 252), a Yemeni known asa notorious liar. As the Washington Post reported in February 2009, he wasgiven preferential treatment in Guantánamo after becoming what some officialsregarded as a significant informant, although there were many reasons to bedoubtful. As the Post noted, "military officials ... expressedreservations about the credibility of their star witness since 2004," andin 2006, in an article for the National Journal, Corine Hegland described how,after a Combatant Status Review Tribunal at which a prisoner had takenexception to information provided by Basardah, placing him at a training campbefore he had even arrived in Afghanistan, his personal representative (amilitary official assigned instead of a lawyer) investigated Basardah’s file,and found that he had made similar claims against 60 other prisoners in total.In January 2009, in the District Court in Washington D.C., Judge Richard Leon(an appointee of George W. Bush) excluded Basardah’s statements while grantingthe habeas corpus petition of Mohammed El-Gharani, a Chadian national who wasjust 14 years old when he was seized in a raid on a mosque in Pakistan. JudgeLeon noted that the government had "specifically cautioned against relyingon his statements without independent corroboration," and in other habeascases that followed, other judges relied on this precedent, discrediting the"star witness" still further.
Mohammed al-Qahtani (ISN 063), a Saudiregarded as the planned 20th hijacker for the 9/11 attacks, was subjected to aspecific torture program at Guantánamo, approved by defense secretary DonaldRumsfeld. This consisted of 20-hour interrogations every day, over a period ofseveral months, and various other "enhanced interrogationtechniques," which severely endangered his health. Variations of thesetechniques then migrated to other prisoners in Guantánamo (and to Abu Ghraib),and in January 2009, just before George W. Bush left office, Susan Crawford, aretired judge and a close friend of Dick Cheney and David Addington, who wasappointed to oversee the military commissions at Guantánamo as the conveningauthority, told Bob Woodward that she had refused to press charges againstal-Qahtani, because, as she said, "We tortured Qahtani. His treatment metthe legal definition of torture." As a result, his numerous statementsabout other prisoners must be regarded as worthless.
Abd al-Hakim Bukhari (ISN 493), a Saudiimprisoned by al-Qaeda as a spy, who was liberated by US forces from a Talibanjail before being sent, inexplicably, to Guantánamo (along with four other menliberated from the jail) is regarded in the files as a member of al-Qaeda, anda trustworthy witness.
Abd al-Rahim Janko (ISN 489), a SyrianKurd, tortured by al-Qaeda as a spy and then imprisoned by the Taliban alongwith Abd al-Hakim Bukhari, above, is also used as a witness, even though he wasmentally unstable. As his assessment in June 2008 stated, "Detainee is on alist of high-risk detainees from a health perspective ... He has severalchronic medical problems. He has a psychiatric history of substance abuse,depression, borderline personality disorder, and prior suicide attempt forwhich he is followed by behavioral health for treatment."
These are just some of the most obviouscases, but alert readers will notice that they are cited repeatedly in whatpurports to be the government’s evidence, and it should, as a result, bedifficult not to conclude that the entire edifice constructed by the governmentis fundamentally unsound, and that what the Guantánamo Files reveal, primarily,is that only a few dozen prisoners are genuinely accused of involvement interrorism.
The rest, these documents reveal on closeinspection, were either innocent men and boys, seized by mistake, or Talibanfoot soldiers, unconnected to terrorism. Moreover, many of these prisoners wereactually sold to US forces, who were offering bounty payments for al-Qaeda andTaliban suspects, by their Afghan and Pakistani allies — a policy that ledex-President Musharraf to state, in his 2006 memoir, In the Line of Fire, that,in return for handing over 369 terror suspects to the US, the Pakistanigovernment “earned bounty payments totalling millions of dollars.”
Uncomfortable facts like these are notrevealed in the deliberations of the Joint Task Force, but they are crucial tounderstanding why what can appear to be a collection of documents confirmingthe government’s scaremongering rhetoric about Guantánamo — the same rhetoricthat has paralyzed President Obama, and revived the politics of fear inCongress — is actually the opposite: the anatomy of a colossal crimeperpetrated by the US government on 779 prisoners who, for the most part, arenot and never have been the terrorists the government would like us to believethey are.
How to Read WikiLeaks’ Guantánamo Files
The nearly 800 documents in WikiLeaks’latest release of classified US documents are memoranda from Joint Task ForceGuantánamo (JTF-GTMO), the combined force in charge of the US "War onTerror" prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to US Southern Command, in Miami,Florida, regarding the disposition of the prisoners.
Written between 2002 and 2008, thememoranda were all marked as "secret," and their subject was whetherto continue holding a prisoner, or whether to recommend his release (describedas his "transfer" — to the custody of his own government, or that ofsome other government). They were obviously not conclusive in and ofthemselves, as final decisions about the disposition of prisoners were taken ata higher level, but they are very significant, as they represent not only theopinions of JTF-GTMO, but also the Criminal Investigation Task Force, createdby the Department of Defense to conduct interrogations in the "War onTerror," and the BSCTs, the behavioral science teams consisting ofpsychologists who had a major say in the "exploitation" of prisonersin interrogation.
Under the heading, "JTF-GTMO Detainee Assessment,"the memos generally contain nine sections, describing the prisoners as follows,although the earlier examples, especially those dealing with prisoners released— or recommended for release — between 2002 and 2004, may have less detailedanalyses than the following:
1. Personal information
Each prisoner is identified by name, byaliases, which the US claims to have identified, by place and date of birth, bycitizenship, and by Internment Serial Number (ISN). These long lists of numbersand letters — e.g. US9YM-000027DP — are used to identify the prisoners inGuantánamo, helping to dehumanize them, as intended, by doing away with theirnames. The most significant section is the number towards the end, which isgenerally shortened, so that the example above would be known as ISN 027. Inthe files, the prisoners are identified by nationality, with 47 countries intotal listed alphabetically, from "az" for Afghanistan to"ym" for Yemen.
This section describes whether or not the prisonerin question has mental health issues and/or physical health issues. Many arejudged to be in good health, but there are some shocking examples of prisonerswith severe mental and/or physical problems.
3. JTF-GTMO Assessment
a. Under "Recommendation," theTask Force explains whether a prisoner should continue to be held, or should bereleased. b. Under "Executive Summary," the Task Force brieflyexplains its reasoning, and, in more recent cases, also explains whether theprisoner is a low, medium or high risk as a threat to the US and its allies andas a threat in detention (i.e. based on their behavior in Guantánamo), and alsowhether they are regarded as of low, medium or high intelligence value. c.Under "Summary of Changes," the Task Force explains whether there hasbeen any change in the information provided since the last appraisal(generally, the prisoners are appraised on an annual basis).
4. Detainee’s Account of Events
Based on the prisoners’ own testimony, thissection puts together an account of their history, and how they came to beseized, in Afghanistan, Pakistan or elsewhere, based on their own words.
5. Capture Information
This section explains how and where theprisoners were seized, and is followed by a description of their possessions atthe time of capture, the date of their transfer to Guantánamo, and, spuriously,"Reasons for Transfer to JTF-GTMO," which lists alleged reasons forthe prisoners’ transfer, such as knowledge of certain topics for exploitation throughinterrogation. The reason that this is unconvincing is because, as formerinterrogator Chris Mackey (a pseudonym) explained in his book TheInterrogators, the US high command, based in Camp Doha, Kuwait, stipulated thatevery prisoner who ended up in US custody had to be transferred to Guantánamo —and that there were no exceptions; in other words, the "Reasons fortransfer" were grafted on afterwards, as an attempt to justify the largelyrandom rounding-up of prisoners.
6. Evaluation of Detainee’s Account
In this section, the Task Force analyzeswhether or not they find the prisoners’ accounts convincing.
7. Detainee Threat
This section is the most significant fromthe point of view of the supposed intelligence used to justify the detention ofprisoners. After "Assessment," which reiterates the conclusion at 3b,the main section, "Reasons for Continued Detention," may, at firstglance, look convincing, but it must be stressed that, for the most part, itconsists of little more than unreliable statements made by the prisoners’fellow prisoners — either in Guantánamo, or in secret prisons run by the CIA,where torture and other forms of coercion were widespread, or through moresubtle means in Guantánamo, where compliant prisoners who were prepared to makestatements about their fellow prisoners were rewarded with better treatment.Some examples are available on the homepage for the release of these documents:http://wikileaks.ch/gitmo/
With this in mind, it should be noted thatthere are good reasons why Obama administration officials, in the interagencyGuantánamo Review Task Force established by the President to review the casesof the 241 prisoners still held in Guantánamo when he took office, concludedthat only 36 could be prosecuted.
The final part of this section,"Detainee’s Conduct," analyzes in detail how the prisoners havebehaved during their imprisonment, with exact figures cited for examples of"Disciplinary Infraction."
8. Detainee Intelligence Value Assessment
After reiterating the intelligenceassessment at 3b and recapping on the prisoners’ alleged status, this sectionprimarily assesses which areas of intelligence remain to be"exploited," according to the Task Force.
9. EC Status
The final section notes whether or not theprisoner in question is still regarded as an "enemy combatant," basedon the findings of the Combatant Status Review Tribunals, held in 2004-05 toascertain whether, on capture, the prisoners had been correctly labeled as"enemy combatants." Out of 558 cases, just 38 prisoners were assessedas being "no longer enemy combatants," and in some cases, when theresult went in the prisoners’ favor, the military convened new panels until itgot the desired result.