That same month, U.S. troops in Bagram flew to Guantánamo a sharecropper whom Pakistani security forces scooped up along the Afghan border as he returned home from his uncle's funeral.
The idea was that, once at Guantánamo, 8,000 miles from his home, he might be able to tell interrogators about covert travel routes through the Afghan-Pakistan mountain region. Seven months later, the Guantánamo intelligence analysts concluded that he wasn't a risk to anyone - and had no worthwhile information. Pentagon records show they sent him home in March 2003, after more than two years in either American or Pakistani custody.
McClatchy Newspapers obtained the documents last month from WikiLeaks on an embargoed basis to give reporters from seven news organizations - including McClatchy, The Washington Post, the Spanish newspaper El Pais, and the German magazine Der Spiegel - time to catalogue, evaluate and report on them. WikiLeaks abruptly lifted the embargo Sunday night, after the organization became aware that the documents had been leaked to other news organizations, which were about to publish stories about them.
Marked "SECRET // NOFORN," the documents consist of more than 750 intelligence summaries. They were written from 2002 to 2008. Many include photographs of the men, information about each man's physical and mental health, and recommendations on whether to keep them in U.S. custody, hand them over to foreign governments for imprisonment, or set them free.
They make little mention of the abuse and torture scandals that surrounded intelligence gathering - both at secret CIA detention centers abroad and at the Guantánamo camps.
Of an Australian man who came to Guantánamo in May 2002, Army Brig. Gen. Jay Hood noted two years later that the captive confessed while "under extreme duress" and "in the custody of the Egyptian government" to training six of the 9/11 hijackers in martial arts. He had denied the ties by August 2004 and was repatriated five months later.
The documents make it clear that intelligence agents elsewhere showed photos of Guantánamo prisoners to prized war-on-terror catches held at secret so-called CIA black sites, out of reach of the International Red Cross. Notably the reports reflect that at times some of the captives' faces were familiar to Zayn al-Abdeen Mohammed Hussein, known as Abu Zubaydah - whom the CIA waterboarded scores of times.
At times the efforts seem comedic. Guards plucked off ships at sea to walk the cellblocks note who has hoarded food as contraband, who makes noise during the Star Spangled Banner, who sings creepy songs like "La, La, La, La Taliban" and who is re-enacting the 9/11 attacks with origami art.
But they also hint at frightening plots.
If you believe the intelligence profiles, the alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed schooled four men now at Guantánamo in the summer before 9/11 in English and American style-behavior for an ancillary 9/11 attack - on U.S. military sites in Asia.
The documents also show military intelligence assessing what looks like little more than prurient gossip in writing reports for their superiors at the Pentagon's Miami-based Southern Command, as part of a Bush administration interagency process that freed about 500 captives - one fourth of whom the Defense Intelligence Agency later came to believe or suspect went on to actually fight U.S. troops or their allies, after their release.