"It didn't work, much of the time. These files show that some of the information collected was garbage and that many of those held knew nothing that could be of use to the people demanding answers from them. Far from securing the fight against terror, the people running the camp faced an absurdist battle to educate a 14-year-old peasant boy kidnapped by an Afghan tribe and treat the dementia, depression and osteoarthritis of an 89-year-old man caught up in a raid on his son's house.
"Other cases are just as pathetic. Jamal al-Harith, born Ronald Fiddler in Manchester in 1966, was imprisoned by the Taliban as a possible spy, after being found wandering through Afghanistan as a Muslim convert. In a movement of Kafkaesque horror the Americans held him in Camp X-Ray simply because he had been a prisoner of its enemy. 'He was expected to have knowledge of Taliban treatment of prisoners and interrogation tactics,' the files record ....
"The final indictment of Guanta'namo is not just that it broke the rule of law temporarily, but that by doing so it made the breach permanent. Justified as a way of gathering information from the guilty, it forced the innocent to invent falsehoods as well. The security forces and politicians who permitted the camp often accuse its critics of being simplistic and squeamish. They say that the things that happened inside it were much less nasty than the things the people it contains did to others. In some cases that's right. But the Guanta'namo system piled lie upon lie through the momentum of its own existence, until no one could know which those cases were, or what was true.
"At times, I have feared that obsessing over the injustices of Guanta'namo Bay has become a surrogate for a wider hatred of America. Read the files, and you'll realise that obsession is the only possible humane response."- Advertisement -