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The WikiLeaks Blog: The Guantánamo Files | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

The WikiLeaks Blog: The Guantánamo Files

As I’ve done for five months, I will be updating news and views on all things WikiLeaks all day, with new items added at the top. All times ET. Contact me at epic1934@aol.com. Read about or order my books The Age of WikiLeaks in print or as an e-book, and Bradley Manning: Truth and Consequences as e-book here and print here.

UPDATE   Go here for Tuesday blog.

10:50  Strong NYT editorial tonight: "The internal documents from the prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, published in The Times on Monday were a chilling reminder of the legal and moral disaster that President George W. Bush created there. They describe the chaos, lawlessness and incompetence in his administration’s system for deciding detainees’ guilt or innocence and assessing whether they would be a threat if released....The disaster at Guantánamo Bay is now Mr. Obama’s problem. He should not compound Mr. Bush’s mistakes in his efforts to correct them." 

7:45  The Gitmo Files: Center for Constitional Rights analysis, video. 

5:05  Amazing:  The Atlantic does the counting and finds that the NYT (tho often critical of Assange) has cited WikiLeaks docs in more than half of daily editions this year -- and that's not counting brief references to Assange or Manning but only actual use of documents.  Would probably be even higher percentage going back to last Thanksgiving when Cable gate broke.

4:25  Bombshell from the Guardian: Al-qaeda terrorist / bomber also worked for Brit spy service M-16. "Adil Hadi al Jazairi Bin Hamlili, an Algerian citizen described as a "facilitator, courier, kidnapper, and assassin for al-Qaida", was detained in Pakistan in 2003 and later sent to Guantánamo Bay.

"But according to Hamlili's Guantánamo "assessment" file, one of 759 individual dossiers obtained by the Guardian, US interrogators were convinced that he was simultaneously acting as an informer for British and Canadian intelligence."

3:40  New low prices for my book The Age of WikiLeaks in print or as an e-book, or brand-new Bradley Manning: Truth and Consequences as e-book here and print here.

3:30  Best headline of day for Wired story by Spencer Ackerman:  "WikiLeaks Exposes Terror Master's Nincompoop Nephew."  The terror master is Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.  "Turns out nepotism doesn’t work any better in the terrorism game than it does in business or in politics."

3:00 Good point by @WLLegal:  Right-winger Marc Thiessen of Wash Post wrote last December, "You're Either With Us, Or You're With WikiLeaks."   Meaning, WikiLeaks anti-American, criminal. Now Wash Post is full WikiLeaks partner on releases. Whoops.

2:30  Not from Gitmo files but good for context: "It has has been reported that prisoners cooperating with interrogations have been rewarded with Happy Meals from the McDonald's located on the mainside of the base."  Also there a Subway and Taco Bell etc. 

2:20  Now it begins.  We've seen it with every previous WikiLeaks release: the media people who proclaim early on, "nothing to see here, just move along."  Here's Mark Thompson at TIME.   Touching how he relies fully on angles from NYT and Wash Post as be all and end all. 

2:00  @JasonLeopold tweets:  "Was just told DOJ has advised all Gitmo defense attys that they need 2 treat files on dets as classified, despite release."

1:55 Al Jazeera video on the files.

1:45  Phone number of someone at BBC found on phone list of a Gitmo detainee so analyst suggests possible terror "propaganda" media connection!   Number now disconnected, in any case.

1:00 Just now: Mike Calderone tweets on WH response,  "During briefing, @PressSec condemns release of #WikiLeaks #GITMO docs – says “unfortunate” NYT and others published docs obtained illegally." 

12:55  @WLLegal tweets:  "From LawFare: Why the #WikiLeaks releases may not have much significance for those detainees still at Guantanamo http://bit.ly/ijkV4A." 

12:30  Der Spiegel now out with its full report on the Gitmo files.  It's one the seven WikiLeaks partners on this.

11:55  CJR reprints its profile of Al Jazeera cameraman, ex-GItmo prisoner, now center of news.

11:20  Tweet of the month?  Pentagon press secy Morrell @PentagonPresSec complains that damn WikiLeaks ruined his Easter weekend: " Thx to Wikileaks we spent Easter weekend dealing w/NYT & other news orgs publishing leaked classified GTMO docs."  Human rights abuses?  Torture? Transparency?  Forget it, I missed that roast lamb and Easter Egg Hunt. 

10:50  The Guardian: "One of the biggest and most explosive clashes at Guantánamo Bay has been fought not between guards and prisoners but between US interrogators," according to  Ewen MacAskill.

10:40  My colleague Kevin Gosztola's wrap-up on what's in the files, at WL Central.

10:30  The Australian on how the Gitmo file release reveals "cut-throat" rivalry between media orgs. 

10:00 Glenn Greenwald, who has closely followed issue for years, weighs in with his first full report on Gitmo files releases and full extent of "travesty" now revealed.  Includes:  "Given that multiple media outlets have just published huge amounts of classified information, it is more difficult than ever to distinguish between WikiLeaks and, say, the NYT or the Post under the law. How could anyone possibly justify prosecuting WikiLeaks for disseminating classified information while not prosecuting these newspapers who have done exactly the same thing."  Also he looks at how different outlets have handled, with NYT focusing on evil detainees while Guardian looks at evil incarceration. 

9:50  What was Bradley Manning's role in the leak of the Gitmo files? In the infamous "chat logs" with Lamo he makes very few, and sketchy, references to leaking some sort of Gitmo files, but much less descriptive to his references to other leaks he is accused of (we note again, he has not been convicted of anything).  Also, there were rumors and reports that WikiLeaks had Gitmo files before Manning's alleged leaking took place.  So hard to nail down right now.  My Bradley Manning book here has fullest treatment on the chat logs and all of this.

9:45  Al Jazeera cameraman held at Gitmo, later released, interviewed about this reaction to release of files (which include unproven charges against him).

9:35  The New Yorker's great Amy Davidson picks out some of reasons people held at Gitmo from files, such as: " A sharecropper because he was familiar with mountain passes... an eighty-nine year old man, who was suffering from dementia... a cameraman for Al Jazeera, to detail its operations.... a fourteen-year-old named Naqib Ullah, described in his file as a 'kidnap victim,'  who might know about the Taliban men who kidnapped him. (Ullah spent a year in the prison.).... Our reasons, in short, do not always really involve a belief that a prisoner is dangerous to us or has committed some crime; sometimes (and this is more debased) we mostly think we might find him useful"      

9:30  AP report on Gitmo files includes reference to NYT analysis showing that word "possibly" used by U.S. 387 times in referring to what detainees might have done.

9:15  What to watch as day goes on: 1) new revelations from files 2) will U.S. go after news orgs?  3) debate over WikiLeaks and others redacting the files -- or failing to do so.

9:10  The Guardian's WikiLeaks blog is back with full coverage, including fact that it is "staggering" coverage all day.  Latest on large number of detainees classified as having mental disorders.  And this:  U.S. classifies chief spy service of our ally Pakistan as a "terrorist" organization.

8:45  David Leigh of The Guardian, long involved in nasty feud with Julian Assange, now claims Assange  "double-crossed" the paper in distributing the Gitmo files to various "right-wing" news orgs and ignoring his paper, allegedly because of The Guardian's coverage of his sex crime case.  Assange has worked with the conservative Daily Telegraph but the "right wing" news outlets he turned to for the Gitmo file dump included the Washington Post and McClatchy.    @WikiLeaks tweets:  "We are pleased that the NYT, Guardian & NPR eventually added their weight to increasing our impact, regardless of the intent of some."

Leigh in a tweet charged that WikiLeaks had not (unlike the NYT and Guardian, he said ) redacted from files info (such as sex charge claims) from the files.

8:40  Andy Worthington live on Democracy Now on his role in Gitmo files release.   NYT and NPR "interactive docket" on all detainees.  

8:35 More from Calderone's report on Gitmo files and media race (see below):  NYT and NPR reps visited White House and Pentagon recently  to discuss documents before publication and agreed to some requests for "redactions," though not all.  The Times has been criticized for showing Cablegate cables to various agencies in advance,  and holding back some.  The Pentagon hit the news outlets last night for deciding to publish.

8:00  We followed is closely last night (see below) and now Mike Calderone at Huff Post has rundown on the race to publish / cover the new Gitmo files featuring NYT and others.  As reported last night Times executive editor Bill Keller confirms it got the docs beyond WIkiLeaks and with no embargo.  "Meanwhile, another group of media outlets were already sifting through the top-secret material, albeit under embargo. As with past WikiLeaks releases, news organizations accepted documents under an agreement to hold off on publishing until WikiLeaks does.

"Since cutting ties with the Times, WikiLeaks had been looking for new U.S.-based news organizations to work with. In mid-February, WikiLeaks began working with McClatchy Newspapers and the Washington Post. WikiLeaks provided those organizations with the Guantanamo Bay documents near the end of March."   Then, as we guessed last night, they had to move "abruptly" when learning of the NYT decison to publish--and after The Daily Telegraph jumped in London.

7:55   BBC:  Of 779 detainees at Guantanamo, all but 220 were innocent or low-level guerrillas.

7:45  Gitmo file for imprisoned Al Jazeera reporter Sami Al-Hajj.

1:10  From The Guardian:  Guantánamo Bay files: Obama grapples with fate of last 172 prisoners 

1:05  @WikiLeaks tweets:  "Domscheit, NYT, Guardian, attempted Gitmo spoiler against our 8 group coalition. We had intel on them and published first." May be technically true but -- NYT had coverage up first, not the others. 

1:00  WLCentral: 2011-04-25 The Gitmo Files: What Can Be Found in Each File 

From late Sunday (the latest first)

Who leaked the WikiLeaks files to The Times?  To summarize:  WikiLeaks gave its Gitmo files to 7 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?

Guantánamo piled lie upon lie through the momentum of its own existence  by  Julian Glover  at The Guardian.

The @WikiLeaks feed at Twitter ontinues to link to individual detainee files, including Australia's David Hicks.

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.

@WikiLeaks notes:  "If you read Wikileaks' 'Gitmo Files' please do so with extra caution. 'Confessions' made under torture are suspect."

Now McClatchy publishes ITS stories based on Gitmo files (co-author is my old friend and ace Iraq reporter Tom Lasseter).  Also reveals that 7 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." 

NYT with "never before seen" photos of Gitmo detainees.

  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.  

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 5 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

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.

NYT 's editors' note on why they published Gitmo files, claim NPR and The Guardian also have.   Here's full response by U.S. government to NYT and others publishing Gitmo docs.  From Petnagon 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 b WikiLeaksconcerning 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 U.S. 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.”

More from the NYT on the Gitmo files (besides its main story, see link below).  Charlie Savage on how suicides "rattled" the prison.   Another  take on use of "flawed evidence" to "assess risk." 

  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 Guantánamo — including sleep deprivation, shackling in stress positions and prolonged exposure to cold temperatures — that drew global condemnation."

 

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