On Sunday April 24 Wikileaks began publishing 779 classified US documents from the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison camp, the site announced adding that details about prisoners - terrorist suspects - detained in Guantanamo, the prison in Cuba opened in 2002, would be released daily.
On the Guardian website, David Leigh, the paper's investigations editor, explained the importance of the files and how in key cases they expose official lies. He reported that the files were shared with the Guardian and US National Public Radio by The New York Times, which says it did not obtain them from Wikileaks.
"The Guantánamo files consist of 759 "detainee assessment" dossiers written between 2002 and 2009 and sent up through the military hierarchy to the US Southern Command headquarters in Miami. They appear to cover all but 20 of the prisoners", the article said.
A number of other documents in the cache spell out guidelines for interrogating and deciding the fate of detainees. One, the "JTF-GTMO matrix of threat indicators" details the "indicators" which should be used to "determine a detainee's capabilities and intentions to pose a terrorist threat if the detainee were given the opportunity." Another provides a matrix for deciding whether a prisoner should be held or released, the article also reported.
"These articles are based on a huge trove of secret documents leaked last year to the anti-secrecy organization Wikileaks and made available to The New York Times by another source on the condition of anonymity", the New York Times announced.
Journalism.co.uk reported indeed that the Guardian and the New York Times were forced to obtain their copy of the documents from another source after Julian Assange turned his back on his early media partners in favour of the Daily Telegraph, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, and others.
The article reported Guardian's David Leigh saying that Assange had gone back on a deal with the newspaper concerning the files allegedly leaked by Manning as a result of the Guardian's coverage of allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against Assange in Sweden.
The relationship between the New York Times, the Guardian and Wikileaks as well as the race in which news organizations got caught up in trying to scoop each other are analysed also in a Huffington Post article. The article reported that Wikileaks provided the documents to some news organizations in the US - McClatchy Newspapers and the Washington Post - and, to some outside the US - The Telegraph, El Pais, Le Monde and Der Spiegel.
It is not clear who passed the documents to the New York Times, which passed them to NPR and the Guardian, but Times executive editor Bill Keller told the Huffington Post that Wikileaks was not their source and that they got the material with no embargo. "Meanwhile, another group of media outlets were already sifting through the classified material, albeit under embargo. As with past WikiLeaks releases, news organizations accepted documents under an agreement to hold off on publishing until WikiLeaks does", the article noted.
It also said that NPR and the Times had planned on posting stories Sunday night, but ended up publishing a bit earlier than expected after the Telegraph jumped out the gate with its piece just after 8pm EST, opening the race for the publication of the scoop.
You can find an info-graphic on the history of the detainee population published by the New York Times here.
"The internal documents from the prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, published in The Times on Monday were a chilling reminder of the legal and moral disaster that President George W. Bush created there. They describe the chaos, lawlessness and incompetence in his administration's system for deciding detainees' guilt or innocence and assessing whether they would be a threat if released", commented a New York Times' editorial.
Journalism.co.uk reported also that, according to Guardian's David Leigh, "the Guantanamo files are the fifth and "very nearly final" tranche of documents leaked by Manning. They follow the Iraq war logs and Afghanistan war logs, and later the US embassy cables.