The release of the “Guantánamo Bay files” has sent shockwaves throughout the global media, now busy pouring over the 759 detainee assessment dossiers. With files highlighting the reality that many Guantánamo inmates were either innocent or only low-level operatives in al-Qaeda or other terrorist organizations, further fingers are pointing at the suspected human rights abuses arising from the infamous Cuban prison. President Obama, who promised to oversee the closure of Guantánamo Bay within his first year of office, is set to face a challenging period ahead.
The “secret” classified documents which describe in detail particulars ranging from levels of threat indicators, to potentiality of prisoner release, range from 2002 to 2009. They list, amongst others Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, “mastermind” of the 9/11 attacks and Hambali (Ridouan Isomuddin), accused of organizing the 2002 Bali bombings, as well as Sami al-Hajj, an al-Jazeera cameraman inexplicably incarcerated for 6 years, and Naqib Ullah, aged just 14 when he was taken to Guantánamo. When reading through the dossiers, it becomes very clear just how many innocent victims were deported to the prison: approximately 150 Afghani and Pakistanis were captured post 9/11 in the hope of extracting minimal intelligence. Considering this gross mistreatment of innocent civilians, it is equally clear why the Pentagon has strongly condemned the leaks, claiming they could undermine its anti-terrorism efforts.
The Guantánamo Bay files offer a remarkable insight into the US military’s investigation and handling of suspected terrorist. However, Guantánamo remains a prison cloaked in secrecy and steeped in infamy. As revealing as the dossiers seem, many crucial issues such as torture, the role and existence of other prisons, and the compliance of client states are not tackled by the leaks. These official documents fail to address the inconvenient truths which would incriminate the practices of US military, as they provide detainee analysis as opposed to raw information. We witness the mindset of the interrogators, the piecing together of parts of the al-Qaeda puzzle and the fear-mongering assumptions made by the intelligence services. Only with the release of medical records, guard logs and CCTV footage, would the intimate details of the Guantánamo system ever become clear.
So what do the Guantánamo leaks reveal in these early days of release? Primarily, they send alarm bells ringing regarding the wide-scale incarceration of innocent victims, from an “incompetent” or knowingly unlawful US military. As Bernhard Docke, German lawyer informed Der Spiegel, "Guantanamo appears to be an autistic and Kafka-esque machine of suspicion in which vague conjecture, simply through the passage of time and constant repetition, becomes supposedly solid fact." The files consolidate suspicion that Guantánamo prisoners, innocent or not, are held in a state of perpetual limbo, apparently outside of any legal jurisdiction. Regardless of the lack of juicy details, the dossiers confirm that the US needs to drastically and speedily reform its anti-terror policy as the Wikileaks and whistle blowing phenomena sweep the globe.