An unreliable* source (Vanity Fair), now widely cited, claims that WikiLeaks possesses "a fourth cache" of U.S. government documents "containing the personal files of all prisoners who [have] been held at Guantánamo."
In this essay and podcast, Andy Worthington, archivist of most that is known about most of the prisoners who have been held at Guantánamo, talks about the "gulf" between U.S. government claims about the prisoners and the truth of who they are and how they were captured.
In running through the prison’s history, I spoke about the huge gulf between the Bush administration’s claim that the prisoners in Guantánamo were “the worst of the worst,” who were all “captured on the battlefield,” and the rather less glorious truth: that the majority of the men — and boys — were sold to the US military by its Afghan or Pakistani allies for bounty payments averaging $5000 a head. I also pointed out how, on capture, none of the men were screened according to the Geneva Conventions’ competent tribunals, held close to the time and place of capture, and used to separate combatants from civiians when those detained are not wearing uniforms, even though, during the first Gulf War, around 1200 of these tribunals were held, and in three-quarters of the cases the men were sent home.
This led to the filling of Guantánamo with “Mickey Mouse prisoners,” as an early commander, Maj. Gen. Michael Dunlavey explained, and resulted in a prison that has never held more than a few dozen genuine terrorist suspects, with the majority of the prisoners being either completely innocent men, or foot soldiers for the Taliban, recruited to fight the Northern Alliance in an inter-Muslim civil war that began long before 9/11 and had, for the most part, nothing to do with al-Qaeda or international terrorism.
Rob and I also spoke about the conflict between the prisoners’ ongoing habeas corpus petitions, and the findings of the Guantánamo Review Task Force, established by President Obama to review the Guantánamo cases in 2009, and how the mainstream media in the US has not focused enough on the court’s rulings in the habeas cases. This is in spite of the fact that the judges have regularly revealed that the goverment’s supposed evidence consists of nothing more than unreliable statements — many extracted under duress, or through the use of torture — made by the prisoners themselves, or by their fellow prisoners, and how the ongoing habeas litigation has, shamefully, been sidelined by ther administration — with the evident cooperation of Attorney General Eric Holder — in favor of the Task Force’s findings.
* Sarah Ellison's narrative of this first encounter between Julian Assange and Nick Davies of the Guardian seems to have come entirely from interviews with Nick Davies, even though she has set some statements from Assange in quotation marks.