The latest WikiLeaks data deluge has arrived. 759 classified documents from Guantanamo Bay covering the period between 2002 and 2009 are in the hands of several media outlets. The Telegraph, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian and NPR have all pored through the information (original files here).
Here's what we learned from a first reading of the news reports:
- A Senior Al-Qaeda Commander Claimed That the Group Hid a Nuke in Europe The bomb would be detonated, unleashing a "nuclear hellstorm," if the United States ever caught or assassinated Osama Bin-Laden. Interestingly, of the news outlets listed, the Telegraph is the only one to mention this anecdote, or at least very prominently cite it. [Telegraph]
- Where Al-Qaeda Was Concentrated on September 11th, 2001 The "core" was in a single city: Karachi, Pakistan. Four days after the terrorist attacks, Bin-Laden then made a visit to to a guesthouse in Kandahar, Afghanistan. "He told the Arab fighters gathered there 'to defend Afghanistan against the infidel invaders' and to 'fight in the name of Allah.'" [The Washington Post]
- U.S. Authorities List the Pakistani Intelligence Service as a Terrorist Organization "US authorities listed the main Pakistani intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), as a terrorist organisation alongside groups such as al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iranian intelligence." [The Guardian]
- Only 220 of Those Held In Gitmo Were Assessed as 'Dangerous International Terrorists' Of the 780 people who have passed through the facility since 2002, only 220 of them were assessed as 'dangerous international terrorists.' Of the remaining detainees, 380 are classified as lower-level foot-soldiers. 150 are considered innocent Afghan or Pakistan farmers or civilians who were rounded up. [Telegraph]
- What the Documents Don't Reveal: Little Mention About Harsh Interrogation (Torture) Many of the new outlets who were approached with the Wikileaks documents concede something to the effect of "the documents are largely silent about the use of the harsh interrogation tactics at Guantánamo," as The New York Times put it.
As to whether or not they'll change anyone's opinion's about Guantanamo, the Times initial assessment, at least, was quite pessimistic: "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."
Naturally, as with every WikiLeaks release, the U.S. government isn't pleased that the classified documents have been published by many of the world's news outlets. NPR and The Times have published a full government statement next to the release of their investigation. You might be able to guess what it says, excerpted:
It is unfortunate that The New York Times and other news organizations have made the decision to publish numerous documents obtained illegally byconcerning the Guantanamo detention facility. These documents contain classified information about current and former GTMO detainees, and we strongly condemn the leaking of this sensitive information.