WikiLeaks and the 14 Missing Guantánamo Files

In the classified US military files recently released by WikiLeaks, and identified as Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs), files relating to 765 of the 779 prisoners held at the prison since it opened on January 11, 2002 have been released. The other 14 files are missing, and this article addresses who these prisoners are and why their files are missing, and also, where possible, tells their stories. As of May 18, this list includes an Afghan prisoner, Inayatullah, who “died of an apparent suicide” at the prison, according to the US military.

Two suspicious omissions: Abdullah Tabarak and Abdurahman Khadr

Of the 14 missing stories, just two are overtly suspicious. The first of these is the file for Abdullah Tabarak Ahmad (ISN 56), a Moroccan who, according to a Washington Post article in January 2003, “was one of [Osama] bin Laden’s long-time bodyguards,” and who, in order to help bin Laden to escape from the showdown with US forces in Afghanistan’s Tora Bora mountains in December 2001, “took possession of the al-Qaeda leader’s satellite phone on the assumption that US intelligence agencies were monitoring it to get a fix on their position.” Whether or not there is any truth to this story is unknown, as the Post‘s source was a number of “senior Moroccan officials,” who have visited Guantánamo, and had interviewed Tabarak. One official said, “He agreed to be captured or die. That’s the level of his fanaticism for bin Laden. It wasn’t a lot of time, but it was enough.” Moroccan officials also stated that Tabarak, who was 43 years old at the time, “had become the ’emir,’ or camp leader,” at Guantánamo. Read the rest of this entry »

“High-Value Detainee” Abu Zubaydah Blinded By the Bush Administration

The story of Abu Zubaydah has fascinated me for many years — since I was writing my book The Guantánamo Files, specifically, and, in my journalism, since I first wrote extensively about him in my April 2008 article, The Insignificance and Insanity of Abu Zubaydah: Ex-Guantánamo Prisoner Confirms FBI’s Doubts. Since then, I have returned to his story repeatedly, in articles including Abu Zubaydah: The Futility Of Torture and A Trail of Broken Lives and Who Authorized The Torture of Abu Zubaydah? (in 2009) and Abu Zubaydah: Tortured for Nothing, The Torture of Abu Zubaydah: The Complaint Filed Against James Mitchell for Ethical Violations, In Abu Zubaydah’s Case, Court Relies on Propaganda and Lies and New Evidence About Prisoners Held in Secret CIA Prisons in Poland and Romania (in 2010), and Algerian in Guantánamo Loses Habeas Petition for Being in a Guest House with Abu Zubaydah and Former CIA “Ghost Prisoner” Abu Zubaydah Recognized as “Victim” in Polish Probe of Secret Prison (this year).

As the supposed “high-value detainee” for whom the CIA’s torture program was specifically developed, and who, after John Yoo and Jay S. Bybee wrote and approved the notorious torture memos of August 1, 2002, was waterboarded 83 times, Zubaydah is pivotal to any assessment of the CIA’s torture program, and what makes his story particularly poignant — while reflecting awfully on the Bush administration’s supposed intelligence — is the fact that it should have been clear from the very beginning to the CIA, and to senior Bush administration officials, up to and including the President, that Zubaydah was not , as touted, the number three in al-Qaeda, but was instead the mentally damaged gatekeeper of a military training camp — Khaldan — that was only tangentially associated with al-Qaeda, and was, in fact, closed down by the Taliban, after its emir, another notorious “ghost prisoner” named Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, refused to bring it under the command of Osama bin Laden.

In the wake of WikiLeaks’ recent release of classified military documents relating to the Guantánamo prisoners (the Detainee Assessment Briefs, or DABs), my friend and colleague Jason Leopold had an excellent story out yesterday on Truthout, which, in essence, analysed why, in the photo of Abu Zubaydah available in the documents, he is wearing an eye patch, when, in the few photos available from before his capture, he clearly had both his eyes. Read the rest of this entry »

Osama bin Laden’s Death, and the Unjustifiable Defense of Torture and Guantánamo

With the reported assassination of Osama bin Laden, one of the most alarming responses has been a kind of casual and widespread acceptance that the death of America’s number one bogeyman would not have been achieved without the use of torture, and without the existence of Guantánamo.

This is wrong on both fronts, as Jane Mayer of the New Yorker explained in response to an early manifestation of the story, put out by torture apologists Liz Cheney and Bill Kristol:

It may have taken nearly a decade to find and kill Osama bin Laden, but it took less than twenty-four hours for torture apologists to claim credit for his downfall.

Keep America Safe, an organization run by former Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter Liz Cheney and Bill Kristol, released a victory statement today that entirely failed to mention President Obama, but lavishly credited “the men and women of America’s intelligence services who, through their interrogation of high-value detainees, developed the information that apparently led us to bin Laden.” Read the rest of this entry »

On CounterSpin, Andy Worthington Discusses WikiLeaks’ Guantánamo Files, Lucinda Marshall Discusses Exposé of Author Greg Mortensen

During a brief media frenzy last week, following the release, by WikiLeaks, of classified military documents relating to almost all of the 779 prisoners held in Guantánamo, I was interviewed on Democracy Now!, by the BBC and Press TV, by Antiwar Radio, by Alexa O’Brien for WikiLeaks Central, and by other media outlets, including FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), for the weekly CounterSpin show, which also featured Lucinda Marshall discussing revelations that the best-selling author Greg Mortensen may have been economical with the truth in his best-selling “memoir,” Three Cups of Tea.

A national media watch group, FAIR, founded in 1986, keeps a close eye on bias in the mainstream media in the United States, which is, of course, a colossal task. I’m delighted to have written for FAIR’s Extra! magazine in February 2009, discussing, in an article entitled, “Dangerous Revisionism Over Guantánamo,” flawed reporting in the New York Times regarding alleged bodyguards fpr Osama bin Laden (mostly still held), who are known as the “Dirty Thirty,” and I’m also pleased to have spoken on CounterSpin back in May 2008 and November 2008 (also here).

The latest interview, with Steve Rendall, which lasts for nearly nine minutes, and is available here, starts just before 10 minutes into the show, following a round-up of the week’s news, and involves me explaining, in the first place, how the documents contain nearly 200 profiles of innocent and insignificant prisoners whose stories have never been revealed before by the US government. Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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