Sunday, May 1, 2011

Important Files Missing in Wikileaks Guantanamo Release

Important detainee files are missing in the Guantanamo files released by Wikileaks. There appear to be sixteen missing files, one of which is mislabeled in the database. The mislabeled file concerns a "Detainee Assessment Brief" for Abdurahman Khadr, the brother of Omar Khadr and an admitted "asset" for the CIA, who once described how he was sent to Guantanamo as a fake prisoner to spy.

The other missing files are suspicious, not least because of who these men were, or the stories behind their capture or subsequent fate.

The missing men include Yaser Hamdi (called Himdy Yasser in the database), ISN 009, who was an American citizen labeled an "illegal enemy combatant," and like U.S. citizen Jose Padilla (who never was at Guantanamo), was sent from Guantanamo to the Navy Brig at Charleston, South Carolina, where he endured terrible isolation and sensory deprivation. His habeas case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which issued a landmark ruling, Hamdi v Rumsfeld, limiting executive rights in regards to incarcerating prisoners without a hearing. Hamdi was later forced to renounce his U.S. citizenship and sent to Saudi Arabia.

Also missing is the file for "high-value" detainee Muhammad Rahim, held by the CIA and only sent to Guantanamo in March 2008, making him a quite late arrival. His ISN, 10030, is not even listed on the Wikileaks database. Another late arrival is also missing. Inayatullah was sent to Guantanamo in August 2007, after having been captured in Afghanistan and, according to press coverage quoting the Defense Department, admitting that he was a leader of al-Qaeda in Zahedan, Iran.

Some of the missing detainee files concern obscure fates. Fael Roda Al-Waleeli was an Egyptian detainee who the Egyptian government still was asking U.S. authorities to repatriate as late as November 2004 (BBC report). Even though Combatant Status Reviews had begun four months earlier, there is no known CSR review of Al-Waleeli's case. A Wikipedia page on Egyptians at Guantanamo reports, "On March 28, 2008 the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram reported that Fael had been transferred from Guantanamo "three years earlier", but that they had been unable to find out any reliable information about what happened to him after his transfer." According to an October 2008 Department of Defense list (PDF) of detainees "released, transferred for released" as of that date, he was released on July 1, 2003. But no one has heard of him again.

One strange file gone AWOL is that of Abdullah Tabarak Ahmad, who had been denied access to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for reasons of "military necessity" (see PDF of JTF GTMO memorandum for the record, 10/9/03), in 2002-03, only to be released into Moroccan custody less than a year later.

Hiding a CIA Informant at Guantanamo

Another prisoner denied ICRC visitation on October 9, 2003 was ISN 990, otherwise known as Abdul Khadr, aka Abdurahman Khadr, brother of Omar Khadr. Abdurahman's file, moreover, was incorrectly identified as that of another man int he Wikileaks database. I recently wrote to Andy Worthington to discuss the situation. Worthington was the only single blogger who was included as an official partner, along with the UK Telegraph, the McClatchy Company, the Washington Post, and other foreign major media, in the Wikileaks Guantanamo Files release.

The following is the exchange we had:
Andy, I’m so glad to see you out there, giving the great analysis about what this giant leak actually means, to provide context.

Since I know you are one of the press outlets who Wikileaks utilized for release, I hope you can get back to them to let them know their database has one serious error.

The file for detainee ISN 990 is actually that for detainee ISN 1001. When you click on the file for Abdul Khadr, you get the DAB for Hafizullah Shabaz Khaul. The actual file for ISN 1001 and Khaul are dimmed on the Wikileaks site, as if they are not available, or yet prepared for download, when actually they are there, under Abdul Khadr’s name and ISN number.

This is especially frustrating, as there are many who would like to see Abdul Khadr’s file, as he is the brother of Omar Khadr. Even more, Abdul Khadr is better known as Abdurahman Khadr, the second oldest of the Khadr sons, and an admitted informant for the CIA, even when he was placed into Guantanamo, where he communicated with his brother Omar.

So if you can help clear up the document issue at Wikileaks, it would be tremendously helpful.
Andy replied the next day, May 1:
Hi Jeff,
Thanks for the supportive words — and also for your work analyzing some of the documents, which readers can find at FireDogLake and on your own site:
I had noticed the confusion regarding Abdurahman Khadr’s file, and will try and make sure that it’s acknowledged. Strange that such an important file is missing, though …
I agree with Andy Worthington, it is strange. Though reported in the U.S. media as part of a big story at PBS's Frontline in April 2004, the consciousness of Abdurahman's tale has faded in the public's awareness. No one to date has noticed the absence of his file in the Guantanamo Wikileaks database until now.

[Update, May 1, 4:20pm, PDT: As commenter skadl notes at Firedoglake, on April 28, WL Central reported the discrepancy in Abdurahman Khadr's Wikileaks file, which did "not match biographical details of any of the Khadr family." They didn't notice that the file did belong to another detainee, Hafizullah Shabaz Khaul, as noted above. WL Central also noted that Jason Leopold had also tweeted on the matter. But no one followed up the story until now.

Update November 29, 2017: I'm just looking back at this issue now, and I see that Wikileaks fixed the problem with the misidentification of the files. Also Hafizullah Shabaz Khaul is now listed under the name "Hafizullah Shabaz Khail." The same ISN number, 1001, still applies. Now Abdurahaman Khadr's ISN 990 is dimmed, as no such report was discovered by Wikileaks, at least so we can surmise.]

According to the UC Davis Center for the Study for Human Rights' website: "On July 13, 2004, Mr. Abdurahman Khadr gave testimony before a Federal Court of Canada in the case MCI & Solliciteur General du Canada c. Adil Charkaoui (# DES-3-03). CSHRA has gone over the transcription of that testimony, selected the portions relevant to prisoner abuse at Guantanamo, and included them below (together with references to the pages of the transcription). To download in its entirety the official court transcription of his testimony, click here [PDF]."

Khadr told Frontline that he was paid $3000 per month to work for the CIA, along with a $5000 bonus, after being captured in Afghanistan in 2002. According to Frontline, he was actually arrested and released a number of times, and all the aspects of his story, particularly while he was in prison, are difficult to fully determine.

From the Frontline interview:
Okay, so to go back over something: From your point of view, what was your deal with the CIA?

The CIA wanted me to work for them. They found me very good with people, very good with languages, with cultures. I can fit in anywhere in a very fast time. I can find people to become friends with. … So they found that I was a good person to work for them.

So from your point of view, what was the deal? They would pay you every month?

They would pay me monthly. The money would go to my account until I stopped working for them, and then that account, I could go and take my money out of the account, or they can send it to me in Canada, or something like that. So I didn't have any control over the account. I didn't know where the account was. That was one of the things I always brought up when they mentioned money. I said I don't know if I have a penny. You're saying I have that much and I'm counting the money I have in your account, but I don't know if I have a penny. Because it's not in my hand. I don't know anything about it.

But they said you would give up the money if?

The money would be gone if I told anyone. It just goes. It disappears if I tell anyone.
Ultimately, he was sent to Bagram, to be processed and infiltrated into Guantanamo like other prisoners. Unfortunately for Abdurahman, this meant often enduring the same abuse and torture as other detainees.
I stayed in Bagram for 10 days and then they took us, they showered us, they put us in new orange suits. The cuffed us up -- hands, legs -- to the stomach and they put us in a room. They had us sit cross-legged on our ass for eight to nine hours. And you could not move. You could not move your back, so you couldn't bend or straight. There's one position, you stay in it. If you move they hit you or they push you. So they tell you not to move....

When we got to Cuba, after two hours they took us into the clinic. They wrote us up and did all the handprints, pictures, everything and then they took us to isolation. They took us into isolation for a month....

Their hopes was when they take me to Cuba they could put me next to anyone that was stubborn and that wouldn't talk and, you know, I would talk him into it. Well, it's not that easy, first thing, because lots of people won't talk to anyone because everybody in Cuba is scared of the person next to him.

And I was feeling depressed. At one point I just started hitting the wall of the cage and tried to hang myself. I wasn't going to hang myself, but I just threatened to do it. I just was thinking, you know, I did everything to get out of this mess and this is what I get. You know, I did everything that I could to get out of this mess and this is what I get. And it took me, when I banged my head against the wall, they took me, they cuffed me up and they took me into the insane people's block. Then they brought me back to general population.
While it has been generally recognized that the Guantanamo Files released by Wikileaks represent the trumped up "mosaic" prosecutorial briefs of a totally corrupt system, there is much still unanalyzed about this material. I noted in an article at Truthout last week the strange lists of "areas of potential exploitation" in most of the detainee files. Some of these "areas" appeared to pertain, for instance, to further psychological research on detainees. In at least one case, there was a possible reference to "exploitation" after the release of the detainee, i.e., to recruitment of a U.S. asset.

The bottom line is that we know very little still about what really has gone on in the secret prisons of the United States. Congress has done literally nothing to look into this since the Senate Armed Services Committee released its report on detainee abuse in 2009. While the Senate Intelligence Committee claims that it has been investigating the detainee interrogation program, nothing has been released about this investigation, and is not likely to be.

Even more upsetting is that the documents are not being examined with a critical-enough eye by the various news agencies that are writing about them. It shouldn't have taken the researches of a not-very-well known blogger to notice a major error in the Wikileaks database, which most likely mirrors distortions in the DoD Guantanamo database itself, especially when this problem concerned a detainee known to be a CIA informant in the prison. Once upon a time, that would have been a front-page story at the New York Times or the Washington Post. Now, it's a footnote.

Cross-posted at Firedoglake/MyFDL

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