MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
Dina, thanks for being with us.
DINA TEMPLE: You're welcome.
NORRIS: So what kinds of information are you finding in these documents?
TEMPLE: Well, what they are are classified assessments of more than 700 detainees who are down at Guantanamo. And these assessments were done between February of 2002 and January of 2009. And here's why they're interesting: because for the first time, these documents make it possible to connect a name with a face, with a history and its evidence.
NORRIS: So do these assessments explain why the detainees are linked to terrorism?
TEMPLE: Jim Clemente was in charge of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit down at Guantanamo, and he's seen the threat matrix. And he said there were a lot of young interrogators there who just didn't have a lot of experience with this sort of questioning.
JAMES CLEMENTE: You have to sort of teach to the lowest common denominator. And that is a very simplistic way of looking at things. There are very nuanced ways that actually experts in the field can use that could go way above and beyond what's on that paper.
TEMPLE: That lack of nuance is part of the reason why some of the information they were getting wasn't that great. A lot of the time, they were determining that someone was with al-Qaida by having some other detainee simply say he was.
NORRIS: So it appears that there are circumstances where the evidence appeared to be rather thin in these documents.
TEMPLE: Actually, that's what's really striking about what we read in this collection. You'd read an assessment of some detainee and you'd hear all these bad things that he supposedly did. And then you drill down a little bit, and it becomes really clear that the evidence is pretty sketchy. I mean, some of it was from other detainees who had mental illnesses or from detainees who were tortured.
NORRIS: So I want to ask you about this, the idea that one - that information from one detainee was used against another detainee, and then that becomes the basis for deciding whether or not these guys were risky or not.
TEMPLE: You know, I asked Karen Greenberg, who's the executive director of NYU's Law and Security center, about this very problem of evidence at Guantanamo.
KAREN GREENBERG: When federal judges get these cases and they look at them, they really see that, in essence, there's no there there. Actual evidence. Who did what when, where, why, how does not seem to be emerging.
NORRIS: And as you said, that was the executive director of NYU's Law and Security center. Dina, you said that these documents cover 2002 to 2009. How has the system changed in that period?
TEMPLE: But I think what we take away from all of this, after reading these documents for a couple of weeks, is that closing Guantanamo is going to be really difficult. And if you believe the documents and these threat assessments, there are some really dangerous people in there. And if you don't believe the documents, it raises real questions about evidence and whether any of these people could really be tried in a civilian or military court.
NORRIS: Dina, thank you very much.
TEMPLE: You're welcome.
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