A cache of 759 files leaked by WikiLeaks to ten news partners—and subsequently leaked to three non-partner outlets—is the fourth and smallest classified document dump to ruffle the Obama administration since the release of the Afghanistan war logs in July of last year.
The “Guantánamo files,” as they are being called by news organizations now reporting on them, are believed to be from the same tranche of documents allegedly obtained by Private Bradley Manning, from which WikiLeaks released its Afghan and Iraqi war logs and its collection of U.S. embassy cables. The files are said to contain some 750 intelligence summaries, or Detainee Assessment Briefs, that The Washington Post—a newly included WikiLeaks partner—says are “intelligence assessments of nearly every one of the 779 individuals who have been held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, since 2002.” (There are currently 172 prisoners at the facility.)
The documents are an average of two to twelve pages in length and were written by the Defense Department between 2002 and 2009; they are marked “Secret” and “Noforn,” meaning they are not to be shown to non-U.S. citizens. Kevin Gosztola at FiredogLake has a good breakdown of what you can actually expect to find in a “Guantánamo file.”
The News Partners
In this latest round of leaks, WikiLeaks lists as its news partners The Washington Post, The McClatchy Company, Spanish newspaper El Pais, Britain’s The Daily Telegraph, Germany’s Der Speigel, France’s Le Monde, the daily Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, Italy’s La Repubblica and the weekly newsmagazine L’espresso, and British journalist Andy Worthingon, who has written extensively on Guantánamo and Bagram.
Instantly noteworthy: While WikiLeaks regulars Der Speigel, Le Monde, and El Pais are still in the loop, The New York Times has once again been cut out—and for the first time, The Guardian too has been ignored by Assange’s organization. However, both papers have still managed to produce substantial packages—perhaps the most substantial of any published overnight—on the Guantánamo files.
The reason is that the Times was given access to the files by an unnamed source. In its Guantánamo package today, the Times notes: “These articles are based on a huge trove of secret documents leaked last year to the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks and made available to The New York Times by another source on the condition of anonymity.” The Times then shared the documents with The Guardian and NPR.
At the website journalism.co.uk, Guardian investigations editor David Leigh said the reason his paper and the Times had been cut out was because “of Julian Assange’s feuding with the Guardian and the New York Times” and that he was now going elsewhere. On the Guardian’s live blog, Leigh writes:
Last year, the Guardian brokered a pioneering deal with Assange under which some of these packages, notably 250,000 leaked US diplomatic cables, would be published collaboratively across the world. The original partners were the New York Times and other European papers, such as El Pais in Spain.
But Assange objected to some articles the Guardian and the New York Times had written, notably those detailing the Swedish sex allegations over which he is currently fighting extradition. He decided to tear up the original deal. According to those close to him, he conceived a plan instead to distribute the Guantánamo material only to a range of rival papers, including the right-wing Daily Telegraph, the Washington Post and Al Jazeera, whilst preventing readers of the Guardian and the New York Times from having access to it.
According to McClatchy, partner outlets were given the documents last month on an embargoed basis to allow them time to report on them and put together their packages. Then, Sunday night, WikiLeaks “abruptly” lifted the embargo after it learned the Times and Guardian had gotten hold of the files and were poised to publish stories on them.