A never-before-seen military manual detailing the day-to-day operations of the U.S. military's Guantánamo Bay detention facility has been leaked to the web, affording a rare inside glimpse into the institution where the United States has imprisoned hundreds of suspected terrorists since 2002.
The 238-page document, "Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedures," is dated March 28, 2003. It is unclassified, but designated "For Official Use Only." It hit the web last Wednesday on Wikileaks.org.
The disclosure highlights the internet's usefulness to whistle-blowers in anonymously propagating documents the government and others would rather conceal. The Pentagon has been resisting -- since October 2003 -- a Freedom of Information Act request from the American Civil Liberties Union seeking the very same document.
Anonymous open-government activists created Wikileaks in January, hoping to turn it into a clearinghouse for such disclosures. The site uses a Wikipedia-like system to enlist the public in authenticating and analyzing the documents it publishes.
The Camp Delta document includes schematics of the camp, detailed checklists of what "comfort items" such as extra toilet paper can be given to detainees as rewards, six pages of instructions on how to process new detainees, instructions on how to psychologically manipulate prisoners, and rules for dealing with hunger strikes.
"What strikes me is the level of detail for handling all kind of situations, from admission to barbers and burials," says Jamil Dakwar, advocacy director of the ACLU's Human Rights program. Dakwar was in Guantánamo last week for a military-commission hearing.
The Pentagon did not reply to a request for comment on the document.
Dakwar sees hints of Abu Ghraib in a section instructing guards to use dogs to intimidate prisoners. He also raises concerns over a section on the International Committee of the Red Cross, or ICRC, which indicates that some prisoners were hidden from Red Cross representatives.
The manual shows how the military coded each prisoner according to the level of access the Red Cross would have. The four levels are:
The No Access level troubles Dakwar.
"That actually raises a lot of concerns about the administration's genuineness in terms of allowing ICRC full access, as was promised to the world," Dakwar says. "They are the only organization that has access to the detainees, and this raises a lot of questions."
The ICRC does not make public reports about the conditions in prisons and gulags around the world, but instead meets privately with governments to persuade them to change their policies.
The manual also includes instructions on how to use military dogs to intimidate prisoners.
"MWD (Military Working Dogs) will walk 'Main Street' in Camp Delta during shifts to demonstrate physical presence to detainees," reads a directive in the "Psychological Deterrence" section. "MWD will not be walked through the blocks unless directed by the (Joint Detention Operations Group)."
The document was signed by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller. According to media reports, Miller introduced harsh interrogation methods to Guantánamo, such as shackling detainees into stress positions and using guard dogs to exploit what the former head commander in Iraq Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez referred to as "Arab fear of dogs."
Miller visited Iraq in 2003 to share the Guantánamo methods. Soon after that visit, the infamous Abu Ghraib photos were taken.
President Bush said in 2006 he wanted to close the Guantánamo Bay prison camp. The military is prosecuting some detainees under military-commission rules set by Congress, and trying to repatriate hundreds of others.