WASHINGTON â€” U.S. military intelligence assessing the threat of nearly 800 men held at Guantanamo in many cases used information from a small group of captives whose accounts now appear to be questionable, according to a McClatchy Newspapers analysis of a trove of secret documents from the facility made public by WikiLeaks.
The allegations and observations of just eight detainees were used to help build cases against some 255 men at Guantanamo â€” roughly a third of all who passed through the prison. Yet the testimony of some of the eight was later questioned by Guantanamo analysts themselves, and the others were subjected to interrogation tactics that defense attorneys say amounted to torture and compromised the veracity of their information.
Concerns about the quality of the â€œfactsâ€ from the eight men goes to the heart of Guantanamoâ€™s â€œmosaicâ€ approach of piecing together detaineesâ€™ involvement with insurgent or terrorist groups that usually did not depend on one slam-dunk piece of evidence. Rather, intelligence analysts combined an array of details such as the items in detaineesâ€™ pants pockets at capture and whether they had confessed to interrogators â€” American or otherwise.
More than two-thirds of the men and boys at Guantanamo were not captured by U.S. forces. So analysts were often left to weave together the stories told by detainees, the context of where and how they were initially scooped up, the information passed on by interrogators at other U.S. detention sites and, crucially, the testimony of fellow detainees at Guantanamo.
At Guantanamo, the captives were aware that some prisoners were providing a pipeline of information to interrogators â€” either to justify their continued detention or for use in potential prosecutions before military commissions.
â€œI heard there was another detainee talking about me,â€ former Briton detainee Feroz Abassi said in a recent interview with McClatchy Newspapers. â€œI thought, let them talk. Theyâ€™re only going to corroborate my story.â€
After being held at Guantanamo for more than three years, Abassi was released in a diplomatic deal in January 2005 at age 25.