US criticizes leak of Guantanamo detainee briefs

WikiLeaks: Trove of nearly 700 briefs taken between 2002, 2009 leaked to int'l media; US says publication could jeopardize American security efforts.

April 25, 2011 05:22
3 minute read.
GTMO Guantanamo Detention Center

GTMO Guantanamo Prison_311. (photo credit: Reuters)


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The US government criticized on Monday the decision of international media outlets to publish Guantanamo Bay detention camp detainee profiles leaked by the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy organization, claiming it could harm US security interests. The cache of sensitive intelliegence documents contains nearly all of the 779 people who been detained at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

Citing the New York Times specifically, as well as "other news organizations," the US statement said that "These documents contain classified information about current and former Guantanamo detainees, and we strongly condemn the leaking of this sensitive information."

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The statement went on to specify that the leaked Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs) were recorded between 2002 and 2009, and that a Guantanamo Review Task Force, established early 2009, reviewed each profile and came to a variety of conclusions based on the new considerations of evidence. These DABs, drafted since 2009, were not leaked via WikiLeaks.

The statement also said that the release of these documents "could be damaging" to efforts to provide security to America's citizens.

The collection of prisoner briefs contain specific detainee assessments based on a survey of the prisoners' personal backgrounds and activity in organizations, plans, or military efforts defined as a risk against he US, its interests, or its allies.

One detainee, born in Saudi Arabia but defined as being of Palestinian descent, was incarcerated under charges of being "an al-Qaida member, operational planner, trainer and participant in hostilities against the US."

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Abu Zabaydah  was described as being an adherent to militant jihad because he was "inspired by the Palestinian cause." He received military training shortly after his arrival in Afghanistan, and became the head of a training camp. According to the document, Zabaydah never fully became an al-Qaida member because he refused to pledge unless al-Qaida staged attacks against Israel and worked to free Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, currently serving life imprisonment in the US.

Since the training camp he ran closed down, Zabaydah moved to Saudi Arabia to work on collecting money for attacks against Israel. In 2002 Zabaydah sought to obtain false Belgian passports, but failed. In 2002, the detainee left Afghanistan for Pakistan, where he settled in a safe house in Faisalabad. He was apprehended by Pakistani authorities during raids of two safe houses in which 15 suspected al-Qaida operatives were seized, and immediately transferred to the US.

Among his personal property was an al-Qaida military artillery manual, a diary, 16 ID papers and seven passports for different persons, mobile phones, computers with over three dozen discs, and a poem in Arabic.

According to the US government statement published by the New York Times, "The previous Administration transferred 537 detainees; to date, the current Administration has transferred 67."

"...The U.S. and other countries and to work toward the ultimate closure of the Guantanamo detention facility, consistent with good security practices and our values as a nation," the statement said. President Barack Obama pledged two years ago to close the prison at US naval base in Cuba but it remains in legal limbo.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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