Detention Deficit

Gitmo files tell all


An April document release from WikiLeaks shed new light on how people end up in the U.S. government's prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and why they stay there.

Some of the documents suggest that a culture of snitching arose within the prison community, with inmates offering damning information about other prisoners. The New Yorker noted that many detainees were held not because there was good reason to think they were dangerous but merely because the government thought they knew things the U.S. wanted to know.

An Al Jazeera journalist, Sami al-Hajj, was held for six years. The reason, according to his file, was to extract information on "the al-Jazeera News Network's training program, telecommunications equipment, and newsgathering operations in Chechnya, Kosovo, and Afghanistan," supposedly because that network had once obtained a Bin Laden video. Although treated as prisoners of war, the detainees were not all caught on the battlefield in Afghanistan. Two, held for two years, were captured in a university library in Pakistan.

The U.S. outsourced some questioning to Russian and Chinese interrogators and officially advised all interrogators to assume that any explanation given for going to Afghanistan after 9/11 was a lie to cover jihadism. Any connection with the Interservices Intelligence Directorate, Pakistan's intelligence agency, was also treated as evidence of anti-American insurgency. All told, of the 779 detainees who have been imprisoned in the camp since the war on terror began, 172 remain.