After revealing some of the less-than-pleasant inner-workings of the U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, and then causing a massive international stir by releasing hundreds of thousands of secret cables from U.S. embassies around the world, WikiLeaks has orchestrated its latest assault on U.S. government secrets with a focus on Guantanamo Bay.
Several news organizations - including The Washington Post, McClatchy Newspapers, Der Spiegel and El Pais - have released reports in conjunction with WikiLeaks containing revelations about the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, the oft-bumbling attempts at intelligence gathering by the Bush administration after 9/11, President Obama's struggles at dealing with the prison camp, as well as some of the inner workings of al Qaeda following the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon.
Notably missing from the list of "official" collaborators is the New York Times and the Guardian newspapers, who, after being close collaborators with WikiLeaks originally, have engaged in a public feud with the enigmatic and often ornery WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
On the official WikiLeaks Twitter feed after the Guantanamo reports were released, someone wrote: "Domschiet, NYT, Guardian, attempted Gitmo spoiler against our 8 group coalition. We had intel on them and published first."
Domscheit probably refers to Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who left WikiLeaks last year amid a dispute with Assange and started a rival open secrets organization, OpenLeaks. The New York Times and The Guardian published an extensive report on the Guantanamo files on Sunday anyways, saying an anonymous third party gave them the files.
Here are some of the revelations:
"The files depict a system often focused less on containing dangerous terrorists or enemy fighters, than on extracting intelligence. Among inmates who proved harmless were an 89-year-old Afghan villager, suffering from senile dementia, and a 14-year-old boy who had been an innocent kidnap victim. The old man was transported to Cuba to interrogate him about "suspicious phone numbers" found in his compound. The 14-year-old was shipped out merely because of "his possible knowledge of Taliban...local leaders""
"On Sept. 11, 2001, the core of al-Qaeda was concentrated in a single city: Karachi, Pakistan. At a hospital, the accused mastermind of the bombing of the USS Cole was recovering from a tonsillectomy. Nearby, the alleged organizer of the 2002 bombing in Bali, Indonesia, was buying lab equipment for a biological weapons program. And in a safe house, the man who would later describe himself as the intellectual author of the Sept. 11 attacks was with other key al-Qaeda members watching the scenes from New York and Washington unfold on television. Within a day, much of the al-Qaeda leadership was on the way back to Afghanistan, planning for a long war."
"Faced with the worst-ever single attack by foreigners on American soil, the U.S. military set up a human intelligence laboratory at Guantanamo that used interrogation and detention practices that they largely made up as they went along. The world may have thought the U.S. was detaining a band of international terrorists whose questioning would help the hunt for Osama Bin Laden or foil the next 9/11. But a collection of secret Bush-era intelligence documents not meant to surface for another 20 years shows that the military's efforts at Guantanamo often were much less effective than the government has acknowledged."
"The documents meticulously record the detainees' "pocket litter" when they were captured: a bus ticket to Kabul, a fake passport and forged student ID, a restaurant receipt, even a poem. They list the prisoners' illnesses -- hepatitis, gout, tuberculosis, depression. They note their serial interrogations, enumerating -- even after six or more years of relentless questioning -- remaining "areas of potential exploitation." They describe inmates' infractions -- punching guards, tearing apart shower shoes, shouting across cellblocks. And, as analysts try to bolster the case for continued incarceration, they record years of detainees' comments about one another."