Guantanamo Papers Reveal A Great Deal, Reporter Says

Apr 26, 2011
Originally published on April 26, 2011 6:08 pm

The previously secret documents released this week about the suspected terrorists that the U.S. has held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, reveal a lot about how that detention center works, says one of the journalists who has done some of the most extensive reporting about that facility since it began receiving prisoners in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald told All Things Considered host Michele Norris today that, for instance, "we learned that we had guards ... meticulously writing down prisoners' habits for the military intelligence [officers] who were also studying and taking part in interrogations."

The intelligence officers, she said, were using "bits and tidbits and pieces of information" to try to figure out who the detainees really were — and whether they were threats or not.

The habits they studied, included "exercise habits ... who sometimes was a hunger striker ... who was a trouble maker."

The goal: to build mosaics that the military hoped would add up to profiles.

Much more of Michele's conversation with Rosenberg is due on today's edition of All Things Considered. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show. Later, we'll add the as-broadcast version of the interview to the top of this post.

The Herald has collected its reporting about the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and posted it online here. NPR's coverage of the documents is collected here.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.


Welcome to the program.

CAROL ROSENBERG: Thanks for inviting me.

NORRIS: Now, remind us. When the first prisoners arrived at Guantanamo, what was the long-term thinking about Guantanamo Bay?

ROSENBERG: And so they wanted to sort people out and remove them from the battlefield. And somebody had the idea to pick them up, put them on airplanes, move them 8,000 miles away and hold them. And pretty soon after, they decided they'd need to interrogate them in Cuba.

NORRIS: Who was that somebody?

ROSENBERG: Donald Rumsfeld was the one who first told us about it. He said that they had looked around for a suitable location. If you remember, Afghanistan was really unstable at that point. And they looked at Guam and they look at Guantanamo, and Donald Rumsfeld announced that it was the least worst place to do this activity.

NORRIS: What are the primary differences nearly a decade later in terms of what the prison looked like then and how it's operating now?

ROSENBERG: Well then, it was open air, and everything was available for everyone to see each other; guards saw prisoners, prisoners so guards. Today, it's more like a series of penitentiary buildings, hard steel and cement buildings that look like prisons in the Midwest, which is what several of the so-called camps at Guantanamo are modeled after: American Midwest prisons.

NORRIS: President Obama came into office, and one of his first official acts was to issue these series of executive orders calling for a review of options and the closure of Guantanamo Bay within one year. As we said, he discovered that that was a lot harder than it appeared when he first arrived in Washington. Why has it been so difficult for him to fulfill that promise?

ROSENBERG: So now, we have kind of the Bush doctrine down at Guantanamo with the Obama administration saying, we will have indefinite detention without charge of some of these foreign men picked up a decade ago.

NORRIS: Carol Rosenberg, thanks for coming in.

ROSENBERG: Thank you.

NORRIS: That's Carol Rosenberg. She's a reporter with the Miami Herald. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.