The "Dirty 30" probably weren't all Osama bin Laden bodyguards after all. The "Karachi 6" weren't a cell of bombers plotting attacks in Pakistan for al-Qaida. An Afghan man captured 14 years ago as a suspected chemical weapons maker was confused for somebody else.Guantanamo has been a complete fiasco.
An ongoing review shows the U.S. intelligence community has been debunking long-held myths about some of the "worst of the worst" at Guantanamo, some of them still held today. The retreat emerges in a series of unclassified prisoner profiles released by the Pentagon in recent years, snapshots of much larger dossiers the public cannot see, prepared for the Periodic Review Board examining the Pentagon's "forever prisoner" population.
The documents also offer a window into the wobbly world of early war-on-terror intelligence gathering and analysis where a suspicion built on circumstances of capture gelled into allegations of membership in a terror cell that on reflection more than a decade later probably didn't exist. In a series of interviews, intelligence sources -- including people who served at Guantanamo at the time -- blamed bad intelligence on a combination of urgency to produce, ignorance about al-Qaida and Afghanistan at the prison's inception and inexperience in the art of investigation and analysis.
"It was clear early on that the intelligence was grossly wrong," said Mark Fallon, a retired 30-year federal officer who between 2002 and 2004 was Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Defense's Criminal Investigation Task Force. Most "weren't battlefield captives," he said, calling many "bounty babies" -- men captured by Afghan warlords or Pakistani security forces and sent to Guantanamo "on the sketchiest bit of intelligence with nothing to corroborate."
Fallon was responsible for some interrogations and evaluating intelligence with an eye toward prosecution by military commission. Now, more than decade later, he is in the final stages of publishing a book of his criticisms and said in a recent interview that it's no surprise that early prisoner profiles are imploding under Periodic Review Board scrutiny.
"That's why people are so successful doing cold case homicide cases," he said. "People make decisions based on what they knew then. I don't want to say that the facts changed. The facts grew. When you're working cases, cases evolve. As you get additional facts, you interpret it differently."
We have the wrong people there, and it has served as one of the most effect recruiting tools for terrorists.