Conflict & Justice

'Detainee Policies': Wikileaks releases US rulebook on military prisoners


GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA - OCTOBER 28: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been reviewed by U.S. Military prior to transmission) A group of detainees kneels during an early morning Islamic prayer in their camp at the U.S. military prison for "enemy combatants" on October 28, 2009 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Although U.S. President Barack Obama pledged in his first executive order last January to close the infamous prison within a year's time, the government has been struggling to try the accused terrorists and to transfer them out ahead of the deadline. Military officials at the prison point to improved living standards and state of the art medical treatment available to detainees, but the facility's international reputation remains tied to the "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as waterboarding employed under the Bush administration. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)


John Moore

Wikileaks has begun publishing a new series of revelations, the "Detainee Policies," which it claims exposes America's questionable treatment of military prisoners.

According to the website's press release, its latest cache consists of more than 100 classified or restricted US Defense Department files from the past decade, all detailing rules for the treatment of detainees in US military custody.

They include standard operating procedures and interrogation manuals from some of America's most infamous military prisons, including Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca.

Five documents have been released so far, among them the 2002 operating manual for Guantanamo Bay.

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Other documents, which will be released in stages over the next month, expose what Wikileaks describes as "policies of unaccountability": keeping detainees out of central military records, for example, or minimizing the requirement to keep recordings of interrogations.

Not all of the policies are still in place. Some have been reversed since Barack Obama became president in 2009. As Forbes points out, that makes this release – unlike previous Wikileaks projects – more about history than news.

It's still relevant though, insists Wikileaks founder Julian Assange:

"The 'Detainee Policies' show the anatomy of the beast that is post-9/11 detention, the carving out of a dark space where law and rights do not apply, where persons can be detained without a trace at the convenience of the US Department of Defense. It shows the excesses of the early days of war against an unknown 'enemy' and how these policies matured and evolved, ultimately deriving into the permanent state of exception that the United States now finds itself in, a decade later."

Wikileaks did not state how it obtained the documents. The website has not accepted anonymous online submissions for two years, according to Forbes.

The US soldier accused of giving Wikileaks what was arguably its biggest coup, a trove of some 750,000 classified US documents and diplomatic cables, is awaiting trial and could face life in jail.

Private Bradley Manning was subjected to 11 months of what a UN expert later termed "cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment" at a military prison in Quantico, Virginia.

Assange, meanwhile, has taken refuge at the Ecuadorean embassy in London. The UK has an order to send him for questioning over alleged sex crimes in Sweden – from where, his defense team claims, authorities would attempt to extradite him to the US and possibly even Guantanamo Bay.

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