WikiLeaks revealed long ago that it had files on all of the detainees at Guantánamo Bay, at least through 2009, but their release only arrived tonight, via seven news outlets around the world. Adding to the intrigue: the New York Times claims it received its own files and so was able to scoop everyone else.
Here's how I covered the evening over at my daily WikiLeaks blog. Go here for today's many updates and surprises and shocks.
11:25 Who leaked the WikiLeaks files to the Times? To summarize: WikiLeaks gave its Gitmo files to seven news outlets but not the NYT or the Guardian, probably due to falling out with them over previous leaks. But someone leaked the files to the Times, which in turn gave them to the Guardian and NPR. The Times decided to go ahead tonight with covering/publishing files tonight, and WikiLeaks and partners apparently then rushed to lift embargo and come out with their coverage an hour or two behind the Times. At least that's all suggested by McClatchy and the Guardian. Or did NYT learn that embarge was about to be broken and so moved "abruptly" first? In any case: Who leaked the files to the Times? Remember, the Times is not claiming that it got them from a government or Gitmo or military source, or from the original leaker—it says these are the WikiLeaks documents. So does that mean they came from one of several disgruntled ex-WikiLeakers?
11:20 Guantánamo piled lie upon lie through the momentum of its own existence by Julian Glover at the Guardian.
11:15 The @WikiLeaks feed at Twitter ontinues to link to individual detainee files, including Australia's David Hicks.
11:10 Assange tormenter David Leigh talks about the Guardian's take on the Gitmo files—which he says they obtained from NYT, not WikiLeaks. This is sure to make Assange get madder. Here's site for Guardian coverage.
11:05 @WikiLeaks notes: "If you read Wikileaks' 'Gitmo Files' please do so with extra caution. 'Confessions' made under torture are suspect."
11:00 Now McClatchy publishes its stories based on Gitmo files (co-author is my old friend and ace Iraq reporter Tom Lasseter). Also reveals that seven outlets in all got files on "embargoed" basis last month from WikiLeaks. And mystery solved on timing and NYT getting first from another source: "WikiLeaks abruptly lifted the embargo Sunday night, after the organization became aware that the documents had been leaked to other news organizations, which were about to publish stories about them."
10:10 Gitmo files reveal new details on actions by 9/11 conspirators.
9:55 NYT with "never before seen" photos of Gitmo detainees.
9:50 Wash Post now out with its full package on the Gitmo files, with timelines, interactive features, more. Says it got them from WikiLeaks. Main story focuses on new details about Al Qaeda leaders. So NYT scooped them by going with its own leak, or so it says.
9:25 Interesting that NYT was the first and only place to go with stories based on Gitmo files for much of this evening --although it claims the Guardian and NPR have them. In fact, NPR says it got them from the Times and just five minutes ago put up its first report.
The Daily Telegraph, meanwhile, says Wash Post has them (the Telegraph has had WikiLeaks docs for some time and did its own write up, see below). Remember, the Times claims it got docs from an anonymous source, not WikiLeaks. Which raises questions: Was Times afraid to publish until it learned others—opr WikiLeaks itself (see below) had them and were about to publish? Did it publish now to scoop the others? Are others now scrambling to catch up? Did the Telegraph force their hand? Months ago Assange was angry when the Guardian got its own leak of a previous major release, meaning it could do what it pleased—same thing now with NYT?
9:20 Here at the WikiLeaks site is their full story on, and release of, the Gitmo files. Did this force NYT's hand? The @WikiLeaks twitter feed is linking to individual files on prisoners from a wide variety of countries.
9:15 NYT 's editors' note on why they published Gitmo files, claim NPR and the Guardian also have. Here's full response by US government to NYT and others publishing Gitmo docs. From Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell: “It is unfortunate that The New York Times and other news organizations have made the decision to publish numerous documents obtained illegally by WikiLeaks concerning 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.
“The Wikileaks releases include Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs) written by the Department of Defense between 2002 and early 2009. These DABs were written based on a range of information available then.
“The Guantanamo Review Task Force, established in January 2009, considered the DABs during its review of detainee information. In some cases, the Task Force came to the same conclusions as the DABs. In other instances the Review Task Force came to different conclusions, based on updated or other available information. The assessments of the Guantanamo Review Task Force have not been compromised to Wikileaks. Thus, any given DAB illegally obtained and released by Wikileaks may or may not represent the current view of a given detainee.
“Both the previous and the current Administrations have made every effort to act with the utmost care and diligence in transferring detainees from Guantanamo. The previous Administration transferred 537 detainees; to date, the current Administration has transferred 67. Both Administrations have made the protection of American citizens the top priority and we are concerned that the disclosure of these documents could be damaging to those efforts. That said, we will continue to work with allies and partners around the world to mitigate threats to the US and other countries and to work toward the ultimate closure of the Guantanamo detention facility, consistent with good security practices and our values as a nation.”
8:50 Breaking: NYT with story based on those long-rumored Gitmo files obtained by WikiLeaks—but Times says it got them from another source. Also, that other media have them too. The Daily Telegraph in London claims to have been shown "thousands" of docs that WikiLeaks will publish soon. It claims Wash Post also has. Sure to be controversial on several levels. "The shocking human cost of obtaining this intelligence is also exposed with dozens of innocent people sent to Guantanamo—and hundreds of low-level foot-soldiers being held for years and probably tortured before being assessed as of little significance"
But: "The documents are largely silent about the use of the harsh interrogation tactics at Guantanamo—including sleep deprivation, shackling in stress positions and prolonged exposure to cold temperatures—that drew global condemnation."