WikiLeaks on April 24 began publishing “The Guantanamo Files,” a collection of more than 700 classified documents relating to the evidence against and treatment of almost all detainees held at Guantánamo Bay between 2002 and 2008. The documents—detailing things such as the circumstances of detention, the evidence justifying detention, detainee risk evaluations, and the decision process of which detainees to transfer, hold, or release of 758 of the 779 total detainees—were published in part on the WikiLeaks website and released to media outlets. According to the media outlets that have analyzed the documents, they reveal that 220 “high value” al-Qaeda operatives had been held at Guantánamo, in addition to 150 who had been held for years without significant evidence against them. The documents also detailed the practice of US forces detaining people in Afghanistan based on their wearing a particular model of watch that is known to be used by al-Qaeda leaders. Additionally, 20 juveniles were held at the detention facility, including Omar Khadr, who was classified as a high value detainee by the Obama administration and agreed to a plea agreement after eight years in detention.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stated that the leaks emphasized the necessity of judicial review:
These documents are remarkable because they show just how questionable the government’s basis has been for detaining hundreds of people, in some cases indefinitely, at Guantanamo. The one-sided assessments are rife with uncorroborated evidence, information obtained through torture, speculation, errors and allegations that have been proven false. If the government had followed the law, it would have established a meaningful and prompt process to separate the innocent from those who are legally detainable.
In responding to the documents, the US Defense Department (DoD) emphasized that some documents that have not been leaked, including the Guantanamo Review Task Force, which may reflect a change in the government classifications [press release] of detainees. The DoD also stated that the administration had “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.”
From Jurist, April 25. Used with permission.