Secrecy: Wikileaks

U.S. Government Statement in Response to Times Article

By Benjamin Wittes
Sunday, April 24, 2011, 9:38 PM

Here is the statement by Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell and Ambassador Dan Fried, Special Envoy for Closure of the Guantanamo Detention Facility in response to the New York Times story to which I just linked. One interesting feature of this statement is its protectiveness of the propriety of actions of the previous administration. This is a change of tone and a salutary one, in my opinion, from an administration that too often tries to obscure the continuities with prior administration policy. I have italicized relevant phrases from the statement, which I reproduce in full:

It is unfortunate that The New York Times and other news organizations have made the decision to publish numerous documents obtained illegally by Wikileaks concerning the Guantanamo detention facility. These documents contain classified information about current and former GTMO detainees, and we strongly condemn the leaking of this sensitive information.

The Wikileaks releases include Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs) written by the Department of Defense between 2002 and early 2009. These DABs were written based on a range of information available then.

The Guantanamo Review Task Force, established in January 2009, considered the DABs during its review of detainee information. In some cases, the Task Force came to the same conclusions as the DABs. In other instances the Review Task Force came to different conclusions, based on updated or other available information. The assessments of the Guantanamo Review Task Force have not been compromised to Wikileaks. Thus, any given DAB illegally obtained and released by Wikileaks may or may not represent the current view of a given detainee.

Both the previous and the current Administrations have made every effort to act with the utmost care and diligence in transferring detainees from Guantanamo. The previous Administration transferred 537 detainees; to date, the current Administration has transferred 67. Both Administrations have made the protection of American citizens the top priority and we are concerned that the disclosure of these documents could be damaging to those efforts. That said, we will continue to work with allies and partners around the world to mitigate threats to the U.S. and other countries and to work toward the ultimate closure of the Guantanamo detention facility, consistent with good security practices and our values as a nation.