There's a lot to read this morning about the suspected terrorists who have been held at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as well as just where many of al-Qaida's top leaders were on Sept. 11, 2001 — the day of the worst terrorist tasks ever on U.S. soil — and in subsequent weeks.
The New York Times and NPR report that "thousands of pages of previously secret military documents about detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison now put a name, a history and a face on hundreds of men in captivity there. The documents include details on 158 men on whom no information has ever been released."
The files, NPR writes, "are part of a trove of classified information that was leaked last year to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. They were made available to The New York Times by another source, on condition of anonymity. NPR is reporting on the documents with the Times." The papers cover the years 2002 into early 2009.
As NPR's Tom Gjelten explained on Morning Edition, among the revelations is word that U.S. officials ranked the detainees "high, medium or low-risk" in terms of the threat they would post to the U.S. if they were released. And at least 160 of the high-risk detainees have been handed over — most to their home nations.
Tom, NPR's Dina Temple-Raston and NPR's Margot Williams, are reporting on the documents. Dina focused this morning on the revelations about Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda Bin Qumu, "who is believed to be training rebel forces in Libya, [and] has closer ties to al-Qaida than previously understood publicly. According to his detainee assessment, Qumu allegedly trained at two al-Qaida camps, fought in Afghanistan against the Soviets and the Northern Alliance, and moved to Sudan with other al-Qaida members."
You can explore the Times/NPR "Guantanamo Docket" here. In addition, NPR.org has posted:
Other news outlets are also reporting about what is in the latest documents obtained by WikiLeaks:
— Britain's The Telegraph says al-Qaida terrorists "have threatened to unleash a 'nuclear hellstorm' on the West if Osama Bin Laden is caught or assassinated, according to documents to be released by the WikiLeaks website."
— The Washington Post writes that the papers indicated that "on Sept. 11, 2001, the core of al-Qaeda was concentrated in a single city: Karachi, Pakistan. ... The documents also offer some tantalizing glimpses into the whereabouts and operations of Osama bin Laden and his Egyptian deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri."
— The Guardian, which also has obtained the documents, says they "reveal how, alongside the so-called 'worst of the worst,' many prisoners were flown to the Guantanamo cages and held captive for years on the flimsiest grounds, or on the basis of lurid confessions extracted by maltreatment."
In a statement to the Times and NPR, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell and Ambassador Dan Fried, the State Department's special envoy in charge of negotiating the closure of the Guantanamo facility, said it is "unfortunate" that the documents have been leaked and published.
"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 statement said. "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."
There will be more about the documents on today's All Things Considered. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show.