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For Obama, WikiLeaks' Guantánamo files come at bad time

Now that the Obama administration has abandoned the idea of civilian-court trials for detainees, it wants to promote confidence in the military tribunal system at Guantánamo. But new WikiLeaks documents paint a picture of 'questionable' charges.

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A US Army guard stands in a corridor of cells in Camp Five, a detention facility at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Station in Cuba, Sept. 4, 2007.

Joe Skipper/REUTERS/file

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The public release of more than 700 secret documents related to detainees at Guantánamo by WikiLeaks is complicating Obama administration plans to shore up the international image of the detention camp and eventually conduct military commission trials there.

The newly disclosed documents are raising fresh questions about the reliability of US government evidence against the detainees at precisely the time White House and Defense Department officials are trying to build international confidence in the largely untested military tribunal system at Guantánamo.

The documents provide behind-the-scenes access to the US government’s own assessments of detainees who were once branded by Bush administration officials as the “worst of the worst.”

In a statement on its website, WikiLeaks said its analysis of the documents shows that much of the information used to justify continued detention of individuals at Guantánamo was supplied by unreliable sources or those who made statements under coercion or during alleged torture.

“What the Guantánamo Files reveal, primarily, is that only a few dozen prisoners are genuinely accused of involvement in terrorism,” according to analysts at WikiLeaks. “The rest,” the statement continues, “were either innocent men and boys, seized by mistake, or Taliban foot soldiers unconnected to terrorism.”

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