Tag: guantanamo

Quick Gitmo Post

Regarding the revelations in the latest diplo-document-dump, there are some good questions to be asked. Charli is wondering who actually did the leaking and Ben Wittes is concerned about the effect that this will have on not only the government, but the detainees themselves:

Should it most upset the government, for whom the story represents yet another devastating failure to keep important secrets? Or should it most upset detainee counsel, for whom this trove means the public release of huge amounts of unsubstantiated speculation about clients who have not been charged and against whom it is far easier to write down disparaging information in intelligence reports than it is to prove such allegations in court. For both intelligence and civil liberties reasons, there are very good reasons a lot of this material has not been made public.


I’m just going to say that there’s not a lot new here. As the New York Times itself writes:

The Guantánamo assessments seem unlikely to end the long-running debate about America’s most controversial prison. The documents can be mined for evidence supporting beliefs across the political spectrum about the relative perils posed by the detainees and whether the government’s system of holding most without trials is justified.

Basically, the story in the Times just highlights the already known facts: that many individuals are at Guantanamo because of shoddy evidence but cannot be returned to their home countries because they are either considered to be dangerous, whatever evidence was held against them was gained through torture, or there is a substantial chance that their home governments would torture them upon return. It also highlights the fact that the methodology/process for sorting out who should be sent to Guantanamo was flawed, at best.

Again, these are already things that were well known. The documents just seem to shed some light as to who is actually there. It really doesn’t offer us much information as to what to do with the hard cases of individuals like Khalid Sheik Mohammed who would seem to be guilty of major terrorist crimes, but who has been handled so poorly as to make a fair trial nearly impossible.

Right now, the only good I can see coming of this is reminding people that Gitmo is still there, that there are still people in it and that no one seems willing to do anything about it. But really, you have to wonder whether the ‘big issue’ here will be that of Gitmo  itself or that the documents were leaked in the first place. Right now I’m going to put my money on the later.
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Early Questions About the Guantanamo Leak

… which hit the stands this evening via NYT, WAPO, the Telegraph and numerous other media outlets; courtesy of Wikileaks, many say.

Interestingly, NYT reports Wikileaks was not responsible for this release, claiming the documents were originally leaked to Wikileaks but were released to the media by “another party”:

These articles are based on a huge trove of secret documents leaked last year to the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks and made available to The New York Times by another source on the condition of anonymity.

If not Wikileaks, who? Well, who knows? Openleaks, founded by defectors from Wikileaks last year, might be the source, given that a) those who founded Openleaks claim they took the submissions architecture with them along with access to materials that had been submitted prior to the split and b) the scattershot media strategy is a contrast to Assange’s erstwhile special relationship with NYT, Guardian and Der Spiegel – a relationship criticized by Wikileaks insiders that had contributed to the splintering of the organization last year.

However, an anonymous, indiscriminate release regarding a vulnerable human population strikes me as a strange inaugral effort from an organization designed to be more transparent and careful with human subjects protocols than its predecessor.

Additionally, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, founder of Openleaks, wrote in his new memoir Inside Wikileaks: My Time With Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website that Openleaks had no intention of publishing material removed from Assange’s control along with the submissions platform (presumably because of security risks):

Children shouldn’t play with guns. That was our argument for removing the submissions platform from Julian’s control… we did tnot take this step to damage Julian personally. We were not motivated by revenge. And we did not want to get our own hands on the material, or divert it to Openleaks. We just decided to take away these dangerous toys so that Julian could not do harm to anyone else. We will only return the material to Julian if and when he can prove that he can store the material securely and handle it carefully and responsibly…

If Domsheit-Berg is a credible source (the entire memoir outlines just how insecure sensitive WL materials were during much of its existence), another possibility is that materials still under Assange’s control ended up in a third party’s hands through another means.

Or Wikileaks did the release after all. Or both Wikileaks and Openleaks had the information and tied to get the jump on one another. Or a third party did the leak but Wikileaks wants to get credit by tweeting all the news coverage with “Wikileaks” in the headline while blaming Openleaks – whoever is handling the Wikileaks twitter feed these days is presenting the second version of events:

Domschiet, NYT, Guardian, attempted Gitmo spoiler against our 8 group coalition. We had intel on them and published first.

Thoughts, links and info from readers as things develop are most welcome. If both Wikileaks and Openleaks are behind this release, it may be interesting to watch what variation in the reportage tells us about the contrast in how the two organizations operate. At any rate, the politics of the leak itself will be just as interesting as the evidence in the documents.

My only other reaction for now is that while the past four major WL releases were carefully framed to make US foreign policy decisions in the war on terror look bad, this new release may well have – or have been calculated to have – the opposite effect. While some news sources are stressing that “children and senile old men are among the detainees” other are almost making Obama look too soft on Guantanamo detainees (breaking news from the leak includes detainees’ threats against interrogators and claims of a nuclear holocaust if bin Laden is captured). Benajmin Wittes has a few similar thoughts.

The Administration’s response as of an hour ago is here.

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