The White House on Monday condemned the disclosure of hundreds of U.S. military documents originally obtained by the website WikiLeaks that detail secret reports about more than 700 people held since 2002 at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Information about people held at Guantanamo Bay was contained in Detainee Assessment Briefs written by the Department of Defense between 2002 and 2009.
The documents originally were obtained by WikiLeaks. Reports on their contents were published by several news organizations, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Daily Telegraph newspapers, and National Public Radio.
According to The New York Times, the briefs show that a third of those who left Guantanamo Bay were classified as “high risk” before they were released or handed over to other governments.
The White House says the briefs were among sources of information used by a special task force created by President Barack Obama in 2009. The panel reviewed which detainees at Guantanamo could be prosecuted or held indefinitely, and recommended which could be released to their home countries or third countries.
On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney repeated what the Obama administration has said about previous WikiLeaks disclosures, saying that is “unfortunate” that news organizations decided to publish documents that were obtained illegally.
Carney said the publication of the briefs, in his words, “does not make them new to us.” He stressed that the conclusions in the documents were not necessarily the same as those made by the government’s Guantanamo review task force.
“You should not assume that the conclusions of that task force were the same as the conclusions in those briefs about individual detainees,” said Carney. “I think that is an important point to make because a Detainee Assessment Brief in 2006 may or may not be reflective of the administration, the government’s view of that detainee in 2011.”
A joint statement by the Department of Defense and the State Department says newer detainee assessments made by the Guantanamo Bay Review Task Force in 2009 remain secret.
There are 172 detainees in U.S. military custody at Guantanamo Bay. About 600 people were transferred out since the facility opened in 2002, during former President George W. Bush’s administration.
White House Press Secretary Carney said President Obama remains committed to closing the facility. Last month, the administration announced the resumption of military trials for detainees after a two-year freeze, during which it ran into political obstacles to holding civilian trials for detainees in the United States.