READING some of the leaked detainee assessment dossiers from Guantanamo Bay prison, published yesterday by the New York Times and Guardian in Britain, one can only feel revulsion at the crude and cruel methods used by their American captors to extract the truth of the prisoners' alleged terrorism.
From the establishment of Guantanamo Bay in 2002 there were frequent reports of torture and lesser techniques used to induce confessions but these authentic documents reveal the full horror of a punitive regime operating almost randomly among prisoners ranging from children to an 80-year-old, many of whom had been arrested for nothing worse than being in the wrong place at the wrong time without any way of proving their innocence.
The overall purpose of the assessments was to judge the degree of each prisoner's involvement in terrorism, his intelligence value and the threat posed by his release. However, the assessments of individual prisoners show inconsistent and unskilful interrogation often based on conflicting evidence from opportunist inmates hoping to gain credit for providing false witness.
More than 170 inmates remain in this appalling place. President Obama, who reneged without explanation on his campaign promise to close down Guantanamo Bay within one year of taking office, will come under fresh pressure from these documents to explain why these prisoners cannot either be released or given an early and fair trial.