FORT MEADE, Md. -- The Defense Department task force that scoured WikiLeaks' Iraq and Afghanistan war logs did not find any deaths of people identified in the leaked reports -- discovering only that the Taliban claimed credit for the death of one person not named in the massive cache of files.
That revelation came as the sentencing phase of WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning's court martial began on Wednesday, a day after he was convicted on charges that carry a maximum sentence of 132.5 years. The prosecution's first sentencing witness, a former U.S. Department of Defense official, spoke to one of the most hotly contested elements of Manning's legacy -- whether his leaks put any American intelligence sources at risk.
Ret. Brig. Gen. Robert Carr testified that his task force identified more than 900 Afghan names as potentially at risk in the 70,000-plus leaked files. But only a single death -- of someone not actually named in the logs -- was ever linked to WikiLeaks.
"As a result of the Afghan logs, I only know of one individual that was killed," Carr said. "The individual was an Afghan national. The Afghan national had a relationship with the United States government, and the Taliban came out publicly and said that they killed him as a result of him being associated with the information in these logs."
Defense lawyer Maj. Thomas Hurley immediately objected, asking Carr whether that person was actually identified by name in the war logs.
"The name was not there," Carr acknowledged. "The name of the individual that was killed was not in the disclosures."
Col. Denise Lind, the judge overseeing Manning's court martial, sustained the defense objection.
Carr also said he was not aware of any sources in Iraq who were killed because they were named in the war logs.
Carr's testimony may cast into question one of the major criticisms of Manning -- that his leaks put named U.S. informants at risk. He described a mad scramble inside the DOD in the wake of the leaks' release. Within 24 to 48 hours of the July 2010 release of Afghanistan battlefield reports, he was tasked by then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates to create and lead a large group called the Information Review Task Force.
At the time, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange might have "the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family" on his hands.
But Carr's testimony on Wednesday indicated that the only evidence of that claim is from the Taliban.
Before sentencing began, Lind blocked both sides from presenting evidence of the actual harm resulting from Manning's disclosures, ruling that it was irrelevant to whether he broke the letter of the law. Now that the sentencing phase of his trial has begun, the prosecution is free to try to establish that Manning's leaks did damage. The defense, meanwhile, is trying to show that American interests and allies were not seriously hurt.
The defense and prosecution have repeatedly sparred over how deliberately Manning chose the 700,000 sensitive files he leaked, out of the millions he had access to. The defense has argued that none of the war logs Manning released were supposed to include the names of military human intelligence sources. But casual interlocutors -- an Afghan villager who chatted with an Army patrol -- were sometimes identified.
After Carr's testimony, Lind indicated that she didn't place much stock in his testimony about the alleged WikiLeaks-linked killing.
"Just for the record," she said, "I'm going to completely disregard any testimony about the Taliban killing somebody and tying it with the leak."
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Abuse Of Prisoners
As the <em>New York Times </em><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/25/world/guantanamo-files-lives-in-an-american-limbo.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1" target="_hplink">reports</a>, Mohammed Qahtani -- a Saudi believed to have been an intended participant in the Sept. 11 attacks -- was subject to coercive questioning and other abuses during his interrogation. The cables describe Qahtani as being leashed like a dog, sexually humiliated and forced to urinate on himself. His file says, "Although publicly released records allege detainee was subject to harsh interrogation techniques in the early stages of detention," his confessions "appear to be true and are corroborated in reporting from other sources."
Arbitrary Nature Of Prison System
As <em>Le Monde</em> is <a href="http://www.worldcrunch.com/wikileaks-guantanamo-why-us-declared-iranian-catholic-drug-dealer-enemy-combatant" target="_hplink">reporting</a>, one "low-value" Iranian-Catholic detainee was kept in Guantanamo even after being deemed ready for release -- given his "cooperative nature" and in the interest of "possible financing relations" between Al Qaeda and traffickers. According to the cables, Abdul Majid Muhammed was deemed fit for release in 2002: "The detainee is not affiliated with Al Qaeda or the Taliban. He was involved in drug trafficking. It is unlikely that he represents a risk for the U.S. or its allies."
An Al Jazeera journalist was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/25/sami-al-hajj-al-jazeera-j_n_853297.html" target="_hplink">reportedly </a>held at Guantanamo Bay for six years partially so he could be interrogated about the network Sami al-Hajj, a Sudanese national and Al Jazeera cameraman, was captured in Pakistan in late 2001. Though he was never convicted or even tried of any terrorist ties, al-Hajj was held until 2008 because interrogators wanted to find out more about "the al-Jazeera news network's training programme, telecommunications equipment, and newsgathering operations in Chechnya, Kosovo and Afghanistan, including the network's acquisition of a video of UBL [Osama bin Laden] and a subsequent interview with UBL," <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/guantanamo-files/US9SU-000345DP" target="_hplink">according</a> to the cables.
Violent Threats Against Captors
Some detainees are described as ruthlessly violent in the documents. As the <em>New York Times </em><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/25/world/guantanamo-files-lives-in-an-american-limbo.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1" target="_hplink">reports</a>, one detainee said "he would like to tell his friends in Iraq to find the interrogator, slice him up, and make a shwarma (a type of sandwich) out of him, with the interrogator's head sticking out of the end of the shwarma." Another "threatened to kill a U.S. service member by chopping off his head and hands when he gets out," and informed a guard that "he will murder him and drink his blood for lunch. Detainee also stated he would fly planes into houses and prayed that President Bush would die."
New Details On Post-9/11 Al Qaeda Whereabouts
As the<em> Washington Post</em> <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/wikileaks-discloses-new-details-on-whereabouts-of-al-qaeda-leaders-on-911/2011/04/24/AFvvzIeE_story_2.html" target="_hplink">reports</a>, the documents describe a major gathering of some of Al Qaeda's most senior operatives in early December 2001. They included Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks; Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged planner of the USS Cole attack; and Abu Faraj al-Libbi, a key facilitator for bin Laden. After returning to Karachi, Mohammed "put together a training program for assassinations and kidnappings as well as pistol and computer training."
"Nuclear Hellstorm' Threat
The leaked files<a href="http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5h9ouUwZB0vhDcEsGB8N2uVcvGFqQ?docId=CNG.e738123e4ccce6019851c695501ca633.9e1" target="_hplink"> indicate</a> Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told Guantanamo Bay interrogators that Al Qaeda had hidden a nuclear bomb in Europe which will unleash a "nuclear hellstorm" if Osama bin Laden is captured or killed. The terror group also planned to make a 9/11 style attack on London's Heathrow airport by crashing a hijacked airliner into one of the terminals, the files showed.
The <em>Washington Post</em><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/wikileaks-discloses-new-details-on-whereabouts-of-al-qaeda-leaders-on-911/2011/04/24/AFvvzIeE_story_2.html" target="_hplink"> reports</a> Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged planner of the USS Cole attack, "received injections to promote impotence" to avoid being distracted by women, and "recommended the injections to others so more time could be spent on the jihad."
Prisoner Details And Ranking System
Gitmo detainees are <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/wikileaks-discloses-new-details-on-whereabouts-of-al-qaeda-leaders-on-911/2011/04/24/AFvvzIeE_story.html" target="_hplink">reportedly</a> assessed "high," "medium" or "low" in terms of their intelligence value, the threat they pose while in detention and the continued threat they might pose to the United States if released. As Reuters<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/25/guantanamo-files-detainees_n_853309.html" target="_hplink"> reports</a>, most of the 172 remaining prisoners have been rated as a "high risk" of posing a threat to the United States and its allies if released without adequate rehabilitation and supervision.
Gitmo authorities named Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency a "terrorist organization" along with Hamas and other international militant networks, according to leaked documents. As the Associated Press <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/25/pakistan-intelligence-terror-links-guantanamo_n_853274.html" target="_hplink">reports</a>, the ISI is part of a list that includes more than 60 international militant networks, as well as Iran's intelligence services, that are "terrorist" entities or associations and say detainees linked to them "may have provided support to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, or engaged in hostilities against U.S. and coalition forces."