"There's a lot of debunked information in these documents that the government itself doesn't even hold to anymore," said John Sifton, an attorney and investigator who has worked on several Guantanamo cases. "In some respects what we're seeing is a snapshot of the United States government's beliefs from seven years ago."
But that hasn't stopped Justice Department and military officials from warning the detainees' attorneys against referring to the Wikileaks documents in open court proceedings. Officials said the documents should be treated as if they were classified even though they are now public.
Tracy Schmaler, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said" "We're aware that publication of these materials has prompted questions from habeas attorneys about the unusual position they find themselves in, and we're working through these issues right now."
However, lawyers question how the government will be able to provide timely access to hundreds of thousands of documents already released to the public.
Remes filed an emergency request Wednesday asking a federal judge to grant "full and unfettered" access to the Wikileaks documents.
"Any member of the general public can view these files, download them, print them, circulate them, and comment on them," he wrote in his brief. "Undersigned counsel, however, fears that he will face potential sanctions, legal or otherwise, if he does exactly the same things without express government permission."
Other attorneys have speculated that the warning is intended to avoid classified material from seeping into the official court record. As a practical matter, they said they don't expect the Justice Department to prosecute attorneys for mishandling the documents.
But the end result is an "alternate reality" where those who perhaps have the most to gain from the documents are prevented from referring to them, Sifton said. Partly in jest, one Guantánamo lawyer has instructed his Facebook friends not to post anything about Wikileaks on his virtual wall.
"It's tongue in cheek," Sifton said. "But it does show how absurd this is."
No matter what, the release demonstrates that the U.S. government has gathered reams of information that is of questionable legal value.
"You can handpick out unsubstantiated crap about one detainee that someone will argue justifies torture," Sifton said. "Somebody else can pull out another document to show how torture yielded false intelligence that wasted time and money and led to some poor sap being locked up without good reason. But there's a lot of gray area that gets lost in that kind of reading."