[JURIST] WikiLeaks [official website] on Sunday began publishing The Guantanamo Files [materials], a collection of more than 700 classified documents relating to the evidence and treatment of almost all detainees held at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] 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 [CFR backgrounder] operatives had been held at Guantanamo, in addition to 150 who had been held for years without significant evidence against them [Guardian report]. The documents also detailed the practice of US forces detaining people in Afghanistan based on their wearing a particular model of watch [Telegraph report] that is known to be used by al Qaeda leaders. Additionally, 20 juveniles were held at the detention facility, including Omar Khadr [JURIST news archive], who was classified as a high value detainee by the Obama administration and agreed to a plea agreement [JURIST report] after eight years in detention. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] stated that the leaks emphasized the necessity of judicial review [press release]:
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) [official website] 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.”
The military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba was opened in January 2002 [JURIST Archives report], and has consistently been a focal point for national and international controversy over the treatment of detainees. The leaks come as President Barack Obama has been attempting to close the facility [JURIST report] and transfer the detainees [JURIST news archive] to other countries. Closing the facility has faced several difficulties, however, and attempts to prosecute detainees in civilian courts have recently failed [JURIST reports]. The Guantanamo Files are the latest in a line of leaks that have shed light on the military and diplomatic actions [JURIST reports] of the US government in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks [JURIST news archive].