Among the cache of documents allegedly leaked to Wikileaks by PFC Bradley Manning was over 700 dossiers on detainees at Guantanamo Bay Prison. A slew of international papers published stories based on them today, and Wikileaks is dribbling out the full cache. They paint a picture of Gitmo as a poop-strewn debacle stuffed with crazy people, a journalist, random Afghan civilians—even some dangerous terrorists.
- The biggest story is probably the one we already know: The information used to justify the years-long detainment of many Guantanamo prisoners was often ludicrously spotty, based on trivial details or unreliable testimony from informants who had been tortured and/or were mentally disturbed. No surprise that many turned out to be completely innocent. Plus side: We're super safe from Afghan taxi drivers and farmers. (Only 220 of the 780 total Gitmo detainees were classified as "dangerous international terrorists," according to the files.)
- But the stories of those who were detained under false pretext are brought vividly to light by the files. And they're pretty heartbreaking: Like the poor farmer imprisoned for two years. Or the detainee who was captured with a Qaeda training manual in Arabic and spent six years convincing analysts that he couldn't speak Arabic—that he'd actually looted the manual from another fighter—and, eventually, succeeded. 89 year-old Mohammed Sadiq had senile dementia and depression when he was brought to Gitmo. He was released nearly a year later, innocent.
- Al Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Hajj. He was kept for six years, interrogated about the news network, then released in 2008 and continues to work there.
- Here is an advanced forensic technique analysts used to determine if someone was an Al-Qaeda member, revealed by the files: Analysts looked at their watches. If a detainee was wearing a super-cheap Casio F91W watch, that was taken as incriminating evidence, since they handed them out at Qaead bomb-making camps. Who knew: Al Qaeda gives out party favors.
- A lot of detainees were screwed up in the head. 100 of the 775 total detainees at Guantanamo had psychiatric illnesses, ranging from frontal lobe damage to schizophrenia.
- So we shouldn't take seriously one Gitmo detainee's claim that Al-Qaeda had hidden a nuclear bomb in Europe which would blow up if Osama Bin Laden was captured or killed.
- Gitmo detainees threw poop at their captors. ("in appropriate use of bodily fluids," according to the documents.")
- No Wikileaks release would be complete without its share of media intrigue. As with its State Department cable leak, Wikileaks cut out the New York Times, its former media partner, from the documents, partnering instead with the Washington Post. The Times was leaked the documents from some unnamed source. But what can you expect after Bill Keller called Julian Assange a "smelly bag lady."
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