WikiLeaks, which has been sitting on an enormous cache of classified U.S. government documents, released another batch of materials to U.S. and European news “partners” including The New York Times. According to press reports, the documents include “intelligence assessments of nearly every one of the 779 individuals who have been held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since 2002. In them, analysts have created detailed portraits of detainees based on raw intelligence, including material gleaned from interrogations.”
A Pentagon official stated, “[i]t is unfortunate that several news organizations have made the decision to publish numerous documents obtained illegally by WikiLeaks concerning the Guantanamo (GITMO) detention facility. These documents contain classified information about current and former GTMO detainees, and we strongly condemn the leaking of this sensitive information.” Further, these documents are incomplete and according to the official “may or may not represent the current view of a given detainee.”
Indeed, having made several trips to GITMO, I can attest to the fact that the government has an enormous stockpile of evidence and materials.
While these documents may provide a wealth of details, they largely confirm what we already know about the detention facilities at Guantanamo. They are there for a good reason. The detainees who are left are either serious risks to U.S. security or there is no safe place to release them. Keeping the facilities open makes sense. As Heritage has noted, “The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is first-rate, and detainees are well treated. Congress should deny funds to close the facility until it is no longer needed.”
Furthermore, the Administration has a continuing obligation to ensure that it detains only individuals who represent a real security risk. Heritage has said the Administration “should conduct a review of all detainees released or transferred from Guantanamo to evaluate the actual recidivism rate. The review must include an analysis of the diplomatic agreements the United States had with the countries that received detainees from Guantanamo to ensure compliance with the assurances by the receiving country. This review should be reported to committees of jurisdiction in Congress, utilizing classified hearings.” Meanwhile, the Administration should press ahead with military commissions for detainees suspected of war crimes.
As for WikiLeaks, the latest release only reconfirms concerns about the organization. It is long past time for the U.S. Congress to update the nation’s espionage laws.