The Times says in this same report that “The documents can be mined for evidence supporting beliefs across the political spectrum about the relative perils posed by the detainees and whether the government’s system of holding most without trials is justified.” But it is clear by the time we arrive to the story’s last two paragraphs that the Times is holding firmly to its established anti-Gitmo stance.
an assessment of a former top Taliban official said he “appears to be resentful of being apprehended while he claimed he was working for the US and Coalition forces to find Mullah Omar,” a reference to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban chief who is in hiding.
But whatever the truth about the detainee’s role before his capture in 2002, it is receding into the past. So, presumably, is the value of whatever information he possesses. Still, his jailers have continued to press him for answers. His assessment of January 2008 — six years after he arrived in Cuba — contended that it was worthwhile to continue to interrogate him, in part because he might know about Mullah Omar’s “possible whereabouts.”
Also worth checking out at the Times is Charles Savage’s similarly damning report, “As Acts of War or Despair, Suicides Rattle a Prison.”
The Guardian is strong once again in handling the latest WikiLeaks material, and its angry tone as strong as ever. Opening its central Guantánamo files story, David Leigh, James Ball, Ian Cobain, and Jason Burke write:
The US military dossiers, obtained by the New York Times and the Guardian, reveal how, alongside the so-called “worst of the worst”, many prisoners were flown to the Guantánamo cages and held captive for years on the flimsiest grounds, or on the basis of lurid confessions extracted by maltreatment.
Then there’s this interview with Reprieve founder Clive Stafford Smith.
But just as effective as the vigor and anger with which the Guardian once again presents its WikiLeaks reporting are the angles and the focuses of its reporting. Particularly striking is James Ball’s use of the files to flesh out previous reporting on the mental health statuses of many of Gitmo’s detainees. From his his report, “Grim toll on mental health of prisoners”:
A 2004 assessment of Algerian Abdul Raham Houari noted that owing to “significant penetrating head trauma in 2001” he had frontal brain damage causing psychosis, slowed motor functions and difficulty with speech and understanding.
The assessment said he would need some form of custodial long-term care. Houari was held in Guantánamo for a further four years, during which time he made at least four suicide attempts, according to press reports.
None of the five detainees believed to have killed themselves at Guantánamo Bay have any mental health issues noted within the files. However, all have a record of alleged disruptive behaviour and non-compliance. Most are among the 25 detainees who the files say went on hunger strikes.
Yasser Talal Zahrani, one of three prisoners who killed themselves on 10 June 2006, was noted to be of low intelligence value with “unremarkable” exposure to jihadist elements.
The Guardian’s Chris Fenn, Simon Jeffery, Ami Sedghi, and Sean Clarke also offer a typically impressive interactive that features clickable images (some are blacked out silhouettes) of all 779 detainees that have been captured and transferred to Gitmo. When you click a picture, you discover the detainee’s name, ID number, nationality, date of arrival at Guantánamo, the circumstances of his capture, and reason for transfer. The information is derived from the newly leaked files.
Interestingly, McClatchy’s reporting on the WikiLeaks Guantánamo files is Guardian-esque in its strong wording and tough take on what it views as incompetence at the prison. McClatchy’s story is a catalog of blunders, from “intelligence analysts” who are “at odds” over who to trust, to the repatriation of valuable sources. Carol Rosenberg and Tom Lasseter write: “Viewed as a whole, the secret intelligence summaries help explain why in May 2009 President Barack Obama, after ordering his own review of wartime intelligence, called America’s experiment at Guantanamo ‘quite simply a mess.’”