Battleland

The Gitmo Files

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A U.S. sailor combs a detainee's beard at Guantanamo Bay in February / Navy photo by David P. Coleman

As if the Obama Administration’s inability to shutter Guantanamo Bay despite its pledge to do so weren’t bad enough, now it has to deal with a torrent of classified documents about the Cuban detainee prison and its 779 inmates.

Here’s what the 700 documents say, in a nutshell:

– Some of those held there weren’t so bad.

– Some were, and we released them anyway.

– Osama bin Laden, in the days after 9/11, traveled between Kandahar and Kabul before heading into his Tora Bora mountain redoubt in November 2001. He told his followers to “remain strong in their commitment to fight, to obey the leaders, to help the Taliban, and that it was a grave mistake and taboo to leave before the fight was completed.”

They contain no bombshells.

The documents surface in a coordinated release Monday in the Washington Post, the British newspaper the Guardian, and on NPR. The New York Times also published them, although it said it did not get them from Wikileaks; in the past it has obtained such material from the Guardian.

The Obama Administration criticized the documents’ unauthorized release, noting that some of the information about various detainees is dated and may not reflect the latest U.S. assessment of them.

No new prisoners have been sent to Gitmo since 2007. The 172 remaining, as well as the American infrastructure designed to house and try them, seem increasingly like long-ago insects trapped forever in amber.

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