“Threat assessment is a game with no winners”: the case of Abdullah Ghofoor

by Naomi Colvin

From Darryl Lee’s excellent piece for Al-Jazeera:

If the initial document dump is any guide, most of what Wikileaks has obtained are “detainee assessments” that reveal more about the inner fantasy world of the US intelligence apparatus than who the detainees really are. The fantasy is not some elaborate conspiracy to fabricate stories from whole cloth; rather, it is the result of an intense desire for “useful” intelligence, coupled with an astounding lack of safeguards or quality control.

… The Guantanamo jailers saw what they wanted to see – and found what pressures from above and their own cultural presuppositions pushed them to find…

Although these assessments would be considered “analytical” rather than “raw” intelligence, one can see very little analysis in them at all. They cite intelligence reports without any discernible attempt to assess their veracity. They read as if someone searched for the detainee’s name in a giant database and then simply pasted together all the passages they could find. For these reasons, one of the worst things one could do is use these files as a baseline for assessing the culpability or dangerousness of their subjects. The “detainee assessments” should not feed the stale, speculative, and fearmongering debate over Guantánamo “recidivism”; they should end it.

And a particularly egregious example:

Abdullah Ghofoor - reasons for continued detention

Abdullah Ghofoor - reasons for continued detention

Despite being seen of “minimal intelligence value”, on the basis of the investigating authorities’ inability to decide whether he presented a risk or not, it was recommended that Abdullah Ghofoor remain in detention, albeit under the jurisdiction of another government if possible. In the event he was repatriated to Afghanistan in March 2004.