August 15, 2009

By Andy Worthington

In April 2006 -- four years and three months after Guantánamo opened -- the government finally conceded defeat, after the Associated Press took the Pentagon to court, and won. That month, the first ever list of prisoners (PDF) -- containing the names and nationalities of the 558 prisoners who had been subjected to the administration's Combatant Status Review Tribunals (one-sided reviews, designed to rubberstamp their prior designation as "enemy combatants") -- was released, and was followed in May by a list of the 759 prisoners held up to that point (including the 201 who had been released before the tribunals began), which included names, nationalities, and, where known, dates of birth and places of birth (PDF).

The government also released 8,000 pages of tribunal transcripts and allegations against the prisoners, which pierced the veil of secrecy still further, allowing outside observers, as well as lawyers, the opportunity to examine whether the government's claims that the prison was full of terrorists were true, and to conclude that, actually, the prison was largely populated by innocent men or low-level Taliban foot soldiers, recruited to fight an inter-Muslim civil war that began long before the 9/11 attacks, and had nothing to do with al-Qaeda or international terrorism.


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