WikiLeaks Releases Guantánamo Bay Prisoner Reports
Detainees walk around the exercise yard in Camp 4, the medium security facility within Camp Delta at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Photo: Department of Defense
WikiLeaks on Sunday began publishing from a collection of 779 classified reports on current and former prisoners of America’s military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
The documents date from 2002 to 2008, and take the form of Secret-level memoranda sent from JTF-GTMO, the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo Bay, to the U.S. Southern Command in Florida.
The Obama administration protested the partial publication of the documents by several news organizations Sunday. “These documents contain classified information about current and former GTMO detainees, and we strongly condemn the leaking of this sensitive information,” read an official statement published in the New York Times, one of the newspapers that reported from an advance copy of the documents.
The Washington Post reports that the leaked files contains new details on the location and organization of al-Qaida’s leadership before and after the September 11 attacks.
“According to the documents, [Osama] bin Laden and his deputy escaped from Tora Bora in mid-December 2001,” the Post notes. “At the time, the al-Qaeda leader was apparently so strapped for cash that he borrowed $7,000 from one of his protectors — a sum he paid back within a year.”
The New York Times reports that the “documents are largely silent about the use of the harsh interrogation tactics at Guantánamo — including sleep deprivation, shackling in stress positions and prolonged exposure to cold temperatures — that drew global condemnation.”
The Times, which has been out of favor with WikiLeaks since running a profile of founder Julian Assange last October, reportedly acquired the secret-spilling website’s newest release indirectly from another source, and then passed it to the UK’s Guardian and NPR.
As with most of WikiLeaks’ U.S. databases, the Guantánamo release was foreshadowed by online conversations held by suspected WikiLeaks source Pfc. Bradley Manning almost a year ago.
In his chats with ex-hacker Adrian Lamo, who ultimately turned him in, Manning said his leaks to WikiLeaks included something he called the “Gitmo Papers” and “the JTF GTMO papers” — references to Guantánamo. He didn’t specify the nature of the documents or the timing of the leak.
The charges against Manning in his pending court martial case include a theft allegation that Manning took an unspecified “United States Southern Command database containing more than 700 records belonging to the United States government.” That’s followed by an allegation that he leaked “more than three classified records from a United States Southern Command database” to a third party in violation of the Espionage Act.
Manning allegedly downloaded that database on March 8, 2010, which would put the leak after the Afghan and Iraq war logs leak, and before the 250,000 diplomatic cables, according to the dates in the charging documents.
With its Guantánamo release, WikiLeaks may be reaching the bottom of the suspected Manning leaks. The only known, undistributed leak remaining is material on the notorious May 2009 U.S. air strike near Garani village in Afghanistan: specifically a video of the attack — which WikiLeaks was provided, but may not have been able to decrypt — and internal U.S. reports on the incident.