WikiLeaks, the controversial whistleblower website run by Australian Julian Assange, has released yet another cache of highly secret, highly controversial documents – this time about the U.S. detention facility at its naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. More than half a dozen newspapers globally, including the Washington Post, Der Spiegel, Le Monde and the Daily Telegraph, published information from over 700 files relating to the prison Sunday night.
These files detail the condition in which each detainee was obtained, their medical condition, and any information they have provided via interrogation. Of the more than 700 prisoners that have been at the facility, the documents show that only 220 were assessed by military and intelligence officials to be dangerous international terrorists. Another 380 were determined to be low-level Taliban or Al Qaeda foot-soldiers whose level of danger outside Afghanistan was considered questionable.
Perhaps most shockingly, these documents acknowledge that at least 150 of the prisoners were completely innocent Pakistanis or Afghans. These prisoners were rounded up by, or even occasionally sold to, American forces and transferred to the Guantanamo prison. In these documents, it is revealed that U.S. commanders commented on the transfer of innocent men to Cuba with, “No reason recorded for transfer.” Given the controversy around the interrogation techniques used by officials at this facility, it is a possibility that these men were tortured before being assessed as having little to no value as information sources.
Likely the most valuable prisoner at the facility is reputed operational commander of Al Qaeda and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is scheduled to face a military tribunal later this year. In the WikiLeaks documents, his file states that Al Qaeda has planned or is currently planning attacks in Asia, Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Perhaps the most frightening revelation is his claim that the terrorist group has hidden a nuclear bomb somewhere in Europe which he threatens will explode if Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden is ever captured or killed. Other threats that have been extracted from prisoners includes possible gas attacks, including using cyanide in the air ducts of public buildings. However, such claims must be looked at with a healthy level of skepticism, as many were extracted under the “enhanced interrogation techniques” that many would argue qualify as torture.
It is likely that the release of these classified documents will renew the fierce debate about the controversial prison, which President Obama promised but so far failed to close.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons