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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange says "hello world". Currently awaiting trial on sex crimes charges, Mr. Assange's organization's has completed another major controversial leak of U.S. government documents.  (Source: National Post)

The latest info dump from Wikileaks contains confidential DoD reports on 779 prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002.
Leaked documents either vindicate the U.S. or offer proof of horrible wrong-doing depending on who you ask

Wikileaks appears to be alive and kicking despite its founder's legal issues.  On Sunday the site authorized the publication of scores of new details about America's antiterrorism campaign, including some that cast America's actions in a questionable light.

The leaks are the latest development in Wikileaks' pro-transparency information attacks on the U.S. government.

I. What Leak?

The latest leaks appear to come from even more confidential documents downloaded off of Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet), the network that supports the information needs of the military and intelligence community.

Imprisoned U.S. Army private, Specialist Bradley Manning, is accused of downloading the documents and disguising them on CDs.  Mr. Manning is accused of slowly passing the information off to Wikileaks.  

It is unclear how long ago Wikileaks passed the documents off to the news organizations.  Typically documents like these require a fair amount of lead-time in order to make even the most basic of comprehensive analyses.  

Wikileaks has struggled financially of late, so has turned largely to volunteer efforts to support its operations and hosting.  Thus it is of interest whether or not it is still actively participating in leaks or simply pulling the trigger on already released documents -- unfortunately the media outlets give little indication what the situation might be.

This time around Wikileaks passed the documents off to America's National Public Radio (NPR) and The Washington Post.  The organization is selective in only handing the desirable leak information to news outlets it considers sympathetic to its cause.

The New York Times and Britain's Guardian, both of whom formerly received leaks, did not receive this round of leaks.  Reportedly, Wikileaks is upset at these publications for covering the pending ostensibly unrelated sex crimes allegations against Wikileaks founder and chief Julian Assange.

These newspapers still managed to obtain the documents from "another source".

II. What's in the Documents?

If anything this is one of Wikileaks meatier releases.  Unfortunately for the site, in the U.S. public interest in the story has waned amidst rounds of unremarkable leaked war memos from soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The new documents reveal details about America's anti-terrorism efforts in the U.S. and abroad.  Unlike some past releases, certain details revealed here seem to clearly indicate the U.S. in wrongdoing.  

Many of the released details cover America's prison in Cuba, Guantánamo Bay.  

The New York Times reports that Mohammed Qahtani, a Saudi dubbed the "20th hijacker" by government officials, was subjected to inhumane torture.  Allegedly a member of Al Qaeda who hoped to participate in the 9-11 Bombing, Mr. Qahtani was leashed like a dog, sexually humiliated, and forced to urinate on himself.

The documents also reveal that some of the 759 detainees appear to be unjustly imprisoned.  Examples of detainees that proved completely harmless were a 14-year-old boy who was kidnapped, and an 89-year-old Afghan village elder who was suffering from senile dementia.  Reportedly both individuals were held captive against their will for long periods.

On the other hand the documents also reveal that many of the prisoners were obviously violently opposed to the U.S. and appear to be true "terrorists".  Inmates regularly received citations for "inappropriate use of bodily fluids", which translated, in most cases to urinating on, or throwing feces at guards.

The detainees in their interrogations were "mostly compliant and rarely hostile to guard force and staff", but some became violent towards them.  One individual said "he would like to tell his friends in Iraq to find the interrogator, slice him up, and make a shwarma (a type of sandwich) out of him, with the interrogator’s head sticking out of the end of the shwarma."

Another "threatened to kill a U.S. service member by chopping off his head and hands when he gets out," and informed a guard "he will murder him and drink his blood for lunch. Detainee also stated he would fly planes into houses and prayed that President Bush would die."

Clearly the U.S. officials were dealing with a tough situation.

Further complicating the picture is the fact that some of the government's more extreme interrogations -- much criticized -- did yield a wealth of useful information.

NPR reports, "Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Guantanamo detainees who were famously waterboarded while in CIA detention, are cited as providing interrogators with information about hundreds of other Guantanamo detainees."

And while the torture-obtained information proved largely accurate, gentler efforts to get inmates to inform for incentives seemed to lead inaccurate tales.  According to NPR, "One detainee from Yemen, a convicted drug dealer who later affiliated with al Qaida, informed on so many of his fellow detainees at Guantanamo that authorities there decided the reliability of his information was 'in question.'"

III. Big Picture

There's plenty to take home from the latest release.  The most important thing, perhaps, is that Wikileaks is still around and still appears to be focusing the brunt of its scrutiny on the U.S. government (95+ percent of the site's documents are from the U.S.).

The release also renews the debate about whether Wikileaks is "whistleblowing".  Unlike some past releases like the State Department cables release, the information revealed this time around seems to offer legitimately compelling evidence that the U.S. was doing something wrong.  In that regard it seems like it could qualify under the premise of "whistleblowing" -- more so than past releases, at least.

Despite the fact that U.S. government rules provide certain protections for "whistleblowers" in the military, it seems unlikely that the concerns in the recent document will change Mr. Manning's legal plight given the more questionable nature of some of the previous releases and how Mr. Manning allegedly chose to release the information (to foreign nationals, rather than scrupulous U.S. news outlets like The New York Times).

The leaks offer a mixed picture of America's infamous Cuban prison.  Today only 172 prisoners remain at Guantánamo.  In total, 759 prisoners were covered in the leaked records -- 75 were not.  Of those estimated 834 individuals who entered the compound most appear to have been at least a mild threat to U.S. security, and many U.S. interrogation tactics appeared to have worked.

On the other hand, the U.S. may have stepped over the line in some cases and some people may have been wrongly imprisoned.

Clearly this was a high-pressure situation for the U.S. and at the end of the day the results were mixed -- the government did not perform perfectly.

There's a wealth of details that are outside the scope of this summary that are contained in various reports -- everything from a former detainee now assisting the U.S. as a leader of the resistance in Libya to the locations of suspected Al Qaeda officials before 9/11 and at the present date.

To learn more, check out the following publications:

1. The Washington Post -- "WikiLeaks discloses new details on whereabouts of al-Qaeda leaders on 9/11"
2.  The New York Times -- "Classified Files Offer New Insights Into Detainees"
3.  NPR -- "Military Documents Detail Life At Guantanamo"
4.  Guardian UK -- "Guantánamo leaks lift lid on world's most controversial prison"

The following legal blog also provides lots of links and a nice summary on the story.
The CenterLine -- "Hundreds of Guantanamo Documents Leaked"

The U.S. government has condemned the release.  Ambassador Daniel Fried, the Obama administration's special envoy on detainee issues, and Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell write, "Both administrations have made the protection of American citizens the top priority and we are concerned that the disclosure of these documents could be damaging to those efforts."



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RE: Mr. Self-Absorbed
By Reclaimer77 on 4/26/2011 12:14:39 PM , Rating: -1
quote:
Take Iraq for example. Would you rather the US gov't would've divulged their alleged intelligence that indicated that we should invade Iraq.


Great example. For MY argument. It's obvious now that the real reason for Iraq was that we had proof Saddam had terrorist ties, but we obviously couldn't reveal that to the public because it would have BETRAYED OUR SOURCES and/or put intelligence assets at risk. So enter "WMD's".

How else do you explain the thousands of terrorist killed in Iraq and several key most wanted leaders and generals? The liberal explanation that they fled Afghanistan to Iraq is retarded. Ever looked at a map of the Middle East? Why in the hell would terrorist cross Iran, a perfectly safe place in of itself, and go all the hell the way to Iraq?

quote:
I don't like those who do fight for our freedoms sent off to die based on false information.


Again, so naive. Yeah sorry but we don't send people off to "die" based on what MSNBC or CNN reports. The people going in know the real operational details that we aren't exactly privy to. We don't send people off to die PERIOD. In terms of allied casualties and kill to death ratios, Afghanistan/Iraq was one of if not THE most successful and safe operations in military history.

I guess bringing up the fact that we have an all volunteer force, and that during the war more people volunteered than ever before, wouldn't matter to you right?

quote:
Since you think this is all as simple as "secrets=good" then I suggest you go back to kindergarten to figure out that things are more complex then that.


And I think you're still stuck in kindergarden. Your arguments are no more compelling than "secrets=bad. war=bad. death=always bad no matter what". This just offensive, you view the world through the eyes of a child and then have the nerve to address me like this?

quote:
I believe that secrets (not just in the military) are a necessary evil but that they should be kept to a minimum, just like the gov't itself.


But like it or not, we the voters, have determined that the government and the military should decide what's secret and how much of it gets declassified. So if not they, who should be the decider of these things? Joe Shmoe Six Pack?

See like most Liberals, it's easy for you to stand up here and rabble rouse about how terrible it all is. But I notice you haven't offered one damn solution or opinion about how things are going to work your way as apposed to now. Would you dissolve the Congressional Intelligence Committee? You know, those people we VOTED IN as our Representatives to decide these things for us? Would you make the Military private sector? Exactly what would you like to see changed?

Saying things "should be", well, you guys are good at that. It's easy. But it doesn't make one damn thing happen.


RE: Mr. Self-Absorbed
By The Raven on 4/26/2011 3:42:43 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Great example. For MY argument. It's obvious now that the real reason for Iraq was that we had proof Saddam had terrorist ties, but we obviously couldn't reveal that to the public because it would have BETRAYED OUR SOURCES and/or put intelligence assets at risk. So enter "WMD's".

Ok now you sound completely asinine. You have some conspiracy theory that we didn't tell anyone the real reason that we were invading Iraq? That is a new one to me. Why don't you come up with your own leak that proves that one? You probably got a whole bunch of smart engineers that can attest to your 'evidence' of that.

If we are so worried about terrorist ties (and oil for that matter, I ask our leftist friends) then why did we not invade Saudi Arabia? Or Iran? Or Pakistan?
What the hell kind of argument is that?

And the betraying our sources part? What is that? Like we won't extract them before we let the world know of their findings, but we will before we bomb the bejeezus out of the country? Why wait? Get them out and then let their evidence speak for them from the protected confines of the US borders. THEN bomb the bejeezus out of the country (if there is indeed evidence found that we should).
quote:
Again, so naive. Yeah sorry but we don't send people off to "die" based on what MSNBC or CNN reports. The people going in know the real operational details that we aren't exactly privy to.

How the hell do you know them then?
Ok do you know nothing of the military? The reason why soldiers are expected to follow every order is to get maximum effectiveness out of the unit because it is impossible to know the full gravity and details of the general operations. Do you think they are all over there thinking, "Hmm... I wonder if I should do this?" and second guessing their superiors? You make it sound like that. No, they follow orders as they should. They are commanded to go there and do what they are told. Individual thought is left behind to great extent (not a bad thing in the case of such a team player). But there is no way all these soldiers know exactly what they are doing over there. My cousin was over there for 2 tours sweeping for mines and watching people explode right in front of him. I asked him what he thought about it all on a visit home and he said that many of them don't know why they are even there. Yeah they all know what they are doing, my foot. All they know is that they signed up to help protect our freedoms if they are needed...but with the expectation that the gov't isn't a asshat on wheels. But you and I both know that it is no matter which side of the political spectrum you look at it from.
quote:
But like it or not, we the voters, have determined that the government and the military should decide what's secret and how much of it gets declassified. So if not they, who should be the decider of these things? Joe Shmoe Six Pack?
I don't remember a vote passing to go to war in Libya...and I don't remember a vote passing to go to war in Iraq BASED ON ACCURATE INFORMATION. Oh and by the way what is congress' aproval rating right now anyway? lol
quote:
And I think you're still stuck in kindergarden. Your arguments are no more compelling than "secrets=bad. war=bad. death=always bad no matter what". This just offensive, you view the world through the eyes of a child and then have the nerve to address me like this?

Well excuse me. I didn't know that I was addressing Prince Charles. Look I interpreted your comments as "secret=good" don't turn it around on me (with BTW things I didn't even say). Clarify yourself man.
quote:
See like most Liberals, it's easy for you to stand up here and rabble rouse about how terrible it all is. But I notice you haven't offered one damn solution or opinion about how things are going to work your way as apposed to now. Would you dissolve the Congressional Intelligence Committee? You know, those people we VOTED IN as our Representatives to decide these things for us? Would you make the Military private sector? Exactly what would you like to see changed?

Saying things "should be", well, you guys are good at that. It's easy. But it doesn't make one damn thing happen.

What solution do I need to present to not be a hypocrite or the "bad guy"? Follow the damn Constitution. Live by our own rules. I don't need to present JS as a solution because we already have it.


RE: Mr. Self-Absorbed
By Reclaimer77 on 4/26/11, Rating: -1
RE: Mr. Self-Absorbed
By The Raven on 4/26/2011 7:14:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I don't remember a vote passing to go to war in Libya...and I don't remember a vote passing to go to war in Iraq BASED ON ACCURATE INFORMATION. Oh and by the way what is congress' aproval rating right now anyway? lol

Here I am talking about congress as you mentioned our elected representatives. They need to vote to go to war. That is how the constitution has outlined it.

I don't like what congress does and I do my part to vote them out including trying to talk some sense into people in these comments. You on the other hand seem to think everything is fine with the military and they can do no wrong and we should ignore the people behind the curtain. At least that is what I am getting from you since you don't answer my questions directly.

But at any rate I respect you for having put at least some thought into our politics. That is much more than I can say for most people in this country which is why we are in the situation we are. So sincere props to you regardless of how your opinion differs from mine.


"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen














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