On the ‘Complexity and Dangers’ of Official Sources

Journalist, author and Guantanamo prisoner advocate Andy Worthington gives the lie (Future of Freedom Foundation, 2/16/09) to Washington Post reporters’ exclamations over “‘the complexity and dangers of the issue’ of reviewing the prisoners’ cases” after Obama’s promise to close the illegal prison:

As the conservative judge and George W. Bush appointee Richard Leon discovered in the habeas corpus reviews of five Bosnian Algerians… in many cases “the complexity and dangers” are nothing more than unsubstantiated rumors, and the evidence itself cannot be substantiated.

With this in mind, it was, frankly, negligent of the Washington Post to cite the opinion of a “former senior official,” who… claimed, “All but about 60 who have been approved for release are either high-level Al-Qaeda people responsible for 9/11 or bombings, or were high-level Taliban or al-Qaeda facilitators or money people.”

The problem with this official’s statement is that it is demonstrably false. Of the 182 other prisoners tarred as terrorists by the official, it has long been established that only between 35 and 50 are regarded by intelligence officials as connected in any meaningful way with Al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups.

In fact, Worthington found “a startling example of a prisoner who does not correspond to the opinion of the ‘former senior official'” printed “just three days after the article was published in the Post, when Judge Leon ruled that a Yemeni prisoner, Ghaleb al-Bihani, could continue to be held… because he had been an assistant cook for the Taliban.” See the currently print-only article in Extra!: “Dangerous Revisionism Over Guantanamo: Citing Dirty Evidence to Defend Dubious Detentions (2/09) by Andy Worthington